The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this Friday that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has not ended and new cases may arise, calling for urgent funding of 18 million euros.
“We know that international attention is currently more focused on Covid-19, but (…) we still need another 20 million dollars (about 18 million euros) for WHO to keep the team on the ground, because Ebola is also a matter of global health security, ”said WHO Deputy Director-General for Response and Emergency, Ibrahima-Socé Fall, at a press conference to update the disease situation, which broke out in August 2018 in DRCongo.
The official started his statements by congratulating Masiko's cure, who this Tuesday was discharged from an Ebola treatment center in Beni because she was cured, being the last patient infected with the disease in the country.
Fall cautioned, however, that the outbreak may not be over yet: it can only be declared when the last person to be cured has a negative test result after 42 days.
The Deputy Director General indicated that the danger is imminent and that they must be prepared if new cases arise.
Ibrahima-Socé Fall also indicated that there are four factors for the recurrence of the virus: “First, Ebola transmission is possible outside the groups under surveillance; second, the Ebola virus can persist in needles, syringes or vials used for several weeks; third, the virus can persist in the body fluids of people healed for months, and can be transmitted after recovery or, in rarer cases, can result in a relapse of the victims; finally, the virus is present in an animal reservoir in the region, and there is always the risk of a new spread for people ”.
The deputy general director also said that the “Survivor” program must continue to be funded because “it provides follow-up care to almost all 1,169 survivors in 26 health areas in Kivu Norte and Ituri (east and northeast of DRC, respectively) ) ”.
"The program also helps to reduce the risks of possible relapses," he added.
Fall also referred to the attacks targeted by humanitarian teams in DRCongo, affected by several conflicts.
Since the outbreak was declared, there have been 420 attacks on health facilities in DRCongo, resulting in 11 deaths and 86 injuries, including health officials and patients,
According to Ibrahima-Socé Fall, “at the height of the outbreak, more than 120 cases were reported each week”, with “28 health zones affected, with cases appearing 1,200 kilometers away”.
In response to the outbreak, the official listed: 11 laboratories were created to test about 3,500 samples per week; 11 Ebola treatment centers were created; 300,000 people have been vaccinated; 26,000 funerals were held safely; over 3,000 health units have been identified for infection prevention and control; a vaccine against Ebola has been approved; almost 160 billion people were screened for symptoms of the disease, ”said the deputy director-general during the conference.
Finally, he stated that the health system “has to be strong to stop much more than Ebola”.
"You have to stop malaria, measles, cholera and now Covid-19 (new coronavirus)".
Since the epidemic was declared in August 2018 and until March 1, 3,444 cases of Ebola virus infection have been recorded, of which 3,310 have been confirmed in the laboratory.
The disease caused 2,264 deaths (2,130 confirmed and 134 likely) and 1,168 people were cured.
This epidemic in DRCongo is the second most deadly Ebola on record, being only surpassed by the one that hit West Africa between 2014 and 2016 and that killed more than 11,300 people.