Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

'Strong progress' in calming DRC Ebola outbreak

'Strong progress' in calming DRC Ebola outbreak

UNICEF said June 5 that almost 300,000 people had been screened since the Ebola outbreak was confirmed May 8 by the World Health Organization.

There had been no new cases since mid-May in two of the three areas hit by the disease - the initial outbreak zone of Bikoro and the city of Mbandaka, he said, describing the health response as showing "very strong progress".

The WHO, however, has noted that the Ebola outbreak does not now meet the conditions for a public health emergency of global concern, and that there should be no worldwide travel or trade restrictions. The village has no electricity, and World Health Organization workers travel by motorcycles because four-wheeled vehicles have a hard time navigating area roads.

"Phase one, to protect urban centers and towns, has gone well and we can be cautiously optimistic". In summary, there has been very strong progress in outbreak response, " Salama said. This is the first time such treatments are available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak.

Still, everyone remains on "high alert", he said, adding that two new confirmed cases in Iboko at the end of May and a single case on June 2 "tells us a lot about why we need to refocus our response". Bikoro health zone and Wangata health zone both reported their last confirmed case in mid-May. More than 98% of known contacts have been vaccinated, Salama said. That has complicated efforts to track contacts of those infected.

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He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

"Overall, the contact tracing has been a huge challenge, particularly in areas hardest to reach", said Salama, noting that Iboko is most difficult.

"This is a major logistical and boots-on-the-ground epidemiological endeavor now", Salama said, adding that work there will go on for weeks.

"I am confident that this Ebola outbreak will soon be contained", said Claude Jibidar, WFP's DRC Country Director.

But the Congolese health ministry said on Wednesday that "no experimental treatment has yet been given to hospitalised patients". "But we know to never underestimate Ebola".

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