On August 1, 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo declared their 10th Ebola outbreak in the past four decades. With more than 2,000 cases, this outbreak is considered to be the country’s largest Ebola outbreak ever and the second-deadliest in history. The national laboratory (INRB) announced on August 7, 2018, that the outbreak is of the Zaire Ebola virus, the most deadly strain.
Until now, the outbreak was centered in the northeast of the country, but on June 11, 2019, the first cross-border case appeared, with a Ugandan child being positively diagnosed with Ebola. However, after several discussions, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still not considered dangerous enough to be declared an international public health emergency, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) committee.
Ebola Outbreak In Congo Is Still Not An International Threat, The WHO Reported
The WHO decides if a situation is an international emergency based on three factors. Firstly, the situation must appear suddenly or unexpectedly. Secondly, it must spread beyond the affected country’s borders. Lastly, the situation must be so critical that it requires immediate international action.
On Friday, June 14, 2018, representatives of the WHO committee stated that the organization believes the outbreak still has a low risk of global contamination, but they still acknowledge these cases “constitute international spread of disease.” Experts say there are still many contaminated patients that die outside of treatment centers, exposing their families to the virus. Many of them do not appear on lists of known contacts being monitored.
Unfortunately, the community still hides cases due to distrust, so vaccines can not work at their full potential. As violence persists, attacks on health facilities continue, making it extremely difficult for medical professionals to treat Ebola patients. Since the beginning of 2019, more than 100 attacks on treatment centers and health workers have been recorded. According to Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University, “We are in this for the long haul.”