The US Government have withdrawn professionals tasked with controlling the ongoing Ebola Outbreak from worst affected parts in Congo a government official revealed on Monday.
‘They are not in any hot spots,’ the official said.
This recent outbreak has seen 211 cases of Ebola, including 135 deaths as of Sunday, WHO spokesman Tarik Jaserevic confirmed. While Fifty-five patients have recovered, the recent increase in cases has been, as reported, due to ‘challenges faced by the response team.’
‘For a couple of days we were not able to function really, and in the last couple of weeks we could not function at 100%,’ said Jasarevic. Challenges include a spike in violence that led to a change in location for CDC responders.
‘The recent spike in violent incidents makes the response more difficult and increases the risk of spread not only in the DRC but also in neighbouring countries’ Jasarevic stated in an email
Another reason for the increase in the number of reported cases is “better reporting from the community,” said Jasarevic. Roughly half of the new cases reported in the last couple of weeks have come from the list of contacts (relatives, friends, and others who came into contact with an infected person) that is compiled by health workers, while the remainder of cases required new investigations, according to Jasarevic.
The WHO will hold an emergency committee meeting this Wednesday in Geneva ‘to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage the outbreak,’ according to an announcement released Monday.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said at a UN Security Council meeting that WHO had raised its risk assessment of regional spread from ‘high’ to ‘very high.’
However, at that time, the risk of international spread outside Africa was regarded as ‘low,’ he said: ‘We are very concerned about the potential for the virus to spread into Uganda, but also into Rwanda, South Sudan, and Burundi. We are working very closely with those governments on operational readiness for Ebola.’
Congo is also experiencing intermittent armed conflict which according to the WHO has produced one million refugees and internally displaced people.
Dr. Peter Salama, WHO’s deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, stated in a tweet posted Saturday that with each violent incident in northeast Congo, the community loses trust and ‘more cases and contacts are lost to follow-up.’ This ‘vicious cycle’ increases the risk of the disease spreading, he added.