Saturday, 21 September, 2019

Ebola crisis: Saudi Arabia bans pilgrims from DR Congo

Beni Ebola activity tops first wave as outbreak grows by 8 cases EU Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo increased
Gustavo Carr | 29 July, 2019, 20:44

More than 2,600 cases of Ebola, including 1,756 deaths, have been reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces since August 1, 2018, according to World Health Organization, making this the second worst Ebola outbreak after the 2014 West African epidemic, which killed more than 11,000 people. The World Bank has been supporting programs to combat DRC's ongoing battle with Ebola since May 2018, with resources going to the frontline response, health system strengthening, and preparedness to reduce the risk of spread.

The decision, announced in a note issued on Wednesday by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cited last week's move by the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the Ebola outbreak in DRC's eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces a public health emergency of worldwide concern.

The virus has killed more than 1,700 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the world's second-worst outbreak was declared nearly a year ago and is threatening to spill over its borders.

More than 175,000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola as a preventive measure, he reported.

New healthcare worker and nosocomial infections continue to be reported in Beni and other affected health areas, despite substantial infection prevention and control interventions, with 141 reported so far.

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The outbreak remains confined to two provinces of northeastern Congo.

Other notable challenges include a high proportion of community deaths, a relatively low proportion of new infections linked to known cases, persistence of transmission chains linked to nosocomial exposure, delays in illness detection and isolation, and continued pockets of community resistance. Since 2018, the European Union has allocated over €3.6 million in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi to strengthen their rapid detection and reaction measures to Ebola cases, in case of a spillover. Upon return in Uganda, the boy developed symptoms and was confirmed to be the country's first confirmed case.

It urged all AU member states not to close its borders or place any restriction on travel and cross-border trade.

The €30m announced today will bring the total allocation of EU Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo since the outbreak began last year to €47m; with an additional humanitarian aid funding package worth €3.5m distributed to South Sudan and Uganda in June this year to support prevention and treatment of Ebola.

The virus is threatening to spread to the major city of Goma or spill over DRC's border into Uganda.