Published: Sat, July 20, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

World Health Organization reports new Ebola incident in Uganda amid fears of virus spreading

World Health Organization reports new Ebola incident in Uganda amid fears of virus spreading

The World Health Organization says the deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an worldwide health emergency after the virus spread this week to a city of 2 million people.

Since August a year ago, the DRC Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,600 people out of more than 2,500 cases.

And the country's volatile security situation is complicating matters, as Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi reports from Nairobi.

The year-old Ebola epidemic in eastern DR Congo, the second deadliest on record, has largely been contained to remote areas, but this week saw a patient diagnosed with the virus in provincial capital Goma, the first case in a major urban hub. "It is also crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region", said Professor Robert Steffen, chair of the Emergency Committee.

World Health Organization had been heavily criticized for its sluggish response to the West Africa outbreak, which it repeatedly declined to declare a global emergency until the virus was spreading explosively in three countries and almost 1,000 people were dead.

The decision was made by a committee of 10 scientists who had three times earlier declined to issue the declaration for the current outbreak.

Countries are advised to continue mapping population movements and sociological patterns that can predict risk of disease spread.

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The WHO's International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC also expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response to the Ebola outbreak.

Congo health ministry says outbreak has likely killed 33 people. Since January, there have been nearly 200 attacks on staff and clinics, with seven health workers killed. The WHO has considered and rejected declaring the current outbreak an global emergency several times, saying it would continue to monitor the situation.

North Kivu has an worldwide airport and two global borders and is close to two others.

Here's a look at Ebola and the unprecedented challenges health workers face in trying to contain what the WHO chief has called one of the world's most unsafe diseases in one of the world's most risky regions.

Besides the province including Congo's sprawling capital, Kinshasa, North Kivu is the vast country's most populous.

More worryingly, the viral outbreak has been spreading to neighbouring Uganda.

This was the fourth assembly of the Emergency Committee because the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018. The World Bank in May also pledged to release an additional $10 million from its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help with response; the WHO has to-date received $6.5 million, officials said at the press conference Wednesday.

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