Switzerland: WHO rules out travel restriction to DRC on latest EVD outbreak

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - The latest outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) reported in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in a remote and hard to reach area and appears to be geographically relatively limited, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.

"Investigations are ongoing to assess the full extent of the outbreak and therefore high vigilance still needs to be maintained," the specialised agency of the United Nations cautioned in its risk assessment, noting that it "does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to DRC based on the currently available information."

On 9 May 2017, WHO was informed of a cluster of undiagnosed illness and deaths including haemorrhagic symptoms in Likati Health Zone, Bas Uele Province in northern DRC, bordering Central African Republic.

On 11 May 2017, DRC's Ministry of Health informed WHO that of the five samples collected from suspected cases, one tested positive by RT-PCR for Ebola virus subtype Zaire at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa. Additional specimens are currently being tested and results, including sequencing, are awaited to describe the outbreak.

A multidisciplinary team led by the ministry and supported by WHO and partners was, on 10 May 2017, deployed to the field and were expected to reach the affected area on 12 or 13 May to conduct an in-depth field investigation.

WHO said that personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers was shipped on 12 May 2017 to Kisangani. Additional kits are currently being prepared and would be shipped as soon as available.

The WHO further explained that public health response measures that have been implemented so far include reactivation of the national committee against viral haemorrhagic fever, which meets every day to coordinate the response.

While surveillance and investigation including contact tracing are being strengthened, WHO said it will provide assistance and technical support. The deployment to DRC of an additional WHO multidisciplinary team is currently considered to support the response of national authorities.

In addition, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has been activated to provide additional support if required. Also, WHO said that the need and feasibility of potential Ebola ring vaccination was being discussed.
-0- PANA AR 13May2017

13 Maio 2017 15:07:56

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