WHO to decide on emergency status of Ebola in DR Congo

The outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and has since killed more than 2,300 people in eastern DR Congo

Updated - February 12, 2020 09:50 pm IST

Published - February 12, 2020 09:48 pm IST - Geneva

UN health agency experts meet on Wednesday to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo should still be considered a global health emergency, following a sharp decline in reported cases.

The World Health Organization last July declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” — a designation that gives the WHO greater powers to restrict travel and boost funding.

The outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and has since killed more than 2,300 people in eastern DR Congo.

‘Situation improving’

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said he was “encouraged” by an improvement in the situation, with only three cases reported in the past week. But he added: “It’s not over. Any single case could reignite the epidemic.”

For the epidemic to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

“We cannot and must not forget Ebola,” Mr. Tedros said, adding that he would travel to DR Congo on Thursday to meet President Felix Tshisekedi.

The decision is ultimately up to the WHO’s Emergency Committee that meets every three months once an emergency has been declared.

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