Enterprise Television- Ebola Outbreak: WHO Calls for Emergency Meeting
Christian Lindmeier, spokesman of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said that the organization will organize an Emergency Committee to consider the international risks of Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lindmeier said that the expert committee will decide if a public health emergency of international concern will be declared which would trigger more international involvement, also mobilizing research and resources.
The Public Health Minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga earlier warned that the Ebola outbreak has entered a new stage after a case of the deadly virus was detected for the first time in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about one million people.
“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases.”
The WHO, which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching Mbandaka, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle.
He said authorities would intensify population tracing at all air, river and road routes out of the city. Revealing that it is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo since the disease made its first known appearance near its northern Ebola River in the 1970s.
Ebola is most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in victims owing to damage done to blood vessels.
Kalenga revealed that the first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the WHO to Kinshasa on Wednesday adding that the vaccinations would start by early next week, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.
The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.
The WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, Peter Salama, said the current number of suspected, probable or confirmed cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.
The WHO said health workers have recorded confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in three health zones of Congo’s Equateur province, and have identified 432 people who may have had contact with the disease,.
Supplies sent to Congo included more than 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.
However, the vaccine requires storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees C, tricky in a country with unreliable electricity.
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