WHO expresses fears about potential Ebola spread

Published: Tuesday, 18 December 2018 09:48

In a recent update on the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization stated that the risk of regional and national transmission is very high and measures need to be implemented to control the threat.

WHO says that the EVD outbreak ‘is occurring in an unforgiving context’ and that ‘non-engagement from communities and conflict continue to hamper response activities in some affected areas’. ‘Moreover,’ says WHO, ‘poor infection prevention and control (IPC) practices across numerous private and public health centers remain a major source of amplification of the outbreak and risk to health and other frontline workers.’

Despite these challenges, WHO says it remains confident that the outbreak ‘can be brought to a conclusion’ but also says that new clusters are emerging and the situation remains concerning.

WHO states that there is a ‘very high risk of further geographical spread’ within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that preparedness in neighbouring counties ‘must continue to be upscaled’ to rapidly detect and respond to any potential cases in those countries. Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan are at particular risk.

WHO's risk assessment for the outbreak is currently very high at the national and regional levels; but the global risk level remains low. WHO continues to advise against any restriction of travel to, and trade with, the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on currently available information. However, it is important for neighbouring countries to enhance surveillance and preparedness activities. The International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) Emergency Committee has advised that failing to intensify these preparedness and surveillance activities would lead to worsening conditions and further spread. WHO will continue to work with neighbouring countries and partners to ensure that health authorities are alerted and are operationally prepared to respond.