Congo Ebola outbreak: WHO decides not to declare international emergency

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The World Health Organistaion, WHO has decided not to declare an international emergency over Congo’s Ebola epidemic despite its spread to Uganda.

A panel of the WHO reached the decision on Friday saying such a declaration could cause too much economic harm.

Congo’s epidemic is the second worst ever, with 2,108 cases of Ebola and 1,411 deaths since last August. This week, it reached Uganda, where three cases were recorded, all in people who had arrived from Congo. Two of them died.

In a statement, the panel of 13 independent medical experts on the WHO’s Emergency Committee urged neighbouring “at risk” countries to improve their preparedness for detecting and managing imported cases, “as Uganda has done”.

“This is not a global emergency, it is an emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a severe emergency and it may affect neighbouring counties,” Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the panel’s acting chair, told a news conference at the U.N. agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

“It was the view of the Committee that there is really nothing to gain by declaring a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern), but there is potentially a lot to lose.”

Such a declaration would risk creating restrictions on travel or trade “that could severely harm the economy in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Aavitsland said.

There has been over 3000 confirmed cases of the outbreak which began in August 2018 with over 1000 others dead.




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