Ebola patient suspected of entering Rwanda

18 Juillet, 2019, 16:08 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Health workers bury a body of an Ebola virus disease victim

A woman who died of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo may have taken the deadly disease into Rwanda, according to a Ugandan Health Ministry report published by the World Health Organisation. By declaring it as a PHEIC, WHO has placed it in the rare category which includes other unsafe diseases like the Zika epidemic of 2016, flu pandemic of 2009 and also the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed over 11,000 people in West Africa in 2016.

Despite a highly effective vaccine and a swift worldwide response after it was declared 11 months ago, the outbreak has proved tenacious in an unstable region beset by violence, becoming Congo's worst ever, with nearly 1,700 dead. First of all, it raises the outbreak's visibility and public health officials hope that this declaration will help the global community to come together to fight the spread of the often fatal disease. Get it for your iPhone here. Future emergency declarations might be perceived as punishment and "might result in other countries not reporting outbreaks in the future, which puts us all at greater risk".

Indeed, WHO said that since February it has so far gotten $49 million from worldwide donors, just half the necessary funding needed to put up a sufficient response.

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.

But WHO declaration does not come without some apprehensions. The emergency committee of worldwide health experts that advises WHO had thrice declined to declare an emergency.

The WHO has warned that the nearby countries of Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Uganda are the most at risk, while Central African Republic, Angola, Tanzania, Republic of Congo and Zambia are in a second tier.

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"Ebola is not rocket science, it's very simple", he said. "Closing the borders would handicap our economy". Some infected people have deliberately evaded health authorities.

The current outbreak is spreading in a turbulent Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active and where Ebola had not been experienced before. It marks the start of Congo's 10th Ebola outbreak since 1976.

The move was prompted in part by the case of the fishmonger and by that of a pastor who died of Ebola after going to Goma, a city of 2 million on the Rwandan border. But one fish store owner who she had dealt with had locked up his shop and could not be traced, nor could his four attendants or brother, and fellow traders were refusing to share his phone contact, the ministry said.

Those working in the field say the outbreak is clearly taking a turn for the worse despite advances that include the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine.

Dr Maurice Kakule was one of the first people to survive the current outbreak after he fell ill while treating a woman last July before the outbreak had even been declared.

An employee walks with a cross past others disinfecting the entrance to the morgue in Beni, Congo. The spread of the disease to Uganda, along the Rwandan border, and the relapse in DRC's city of Beni increased concerns of the worldwide body.

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