WHO reports ‘very strong progress’ in battling DR Congo Ebola outbreak

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - One month after the start of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), United Nations health experts on Friday reported “very strong progress” in the response to the disease.

Dr. Peter Salama of the World Health Organization (WHO) told journalists in Geneva that the first phase — protecting urban centres and towns — "has gone well, and we can be cautiously optimistic”.

There have been 62 Ebola cases in DRC during this latest outbreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths, a UN statement said.

The latest case, confirmed on Thursday, was in the remote Iboko health zone in the northwest: an indication that the outbreak is ongoing.

The statement said Dr. Salama, the UN health agency’s Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, was fresh from a two-day visit to DRC.

“There’s been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro,” he said.
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Mbandaka, in northwest DRC, has a population of around one million. It is the capital of Equateur province, where the small town of Bikoro also is located.

“We’re cautiously optimistic but there’s a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we’re on the top of this outbreak,” said Dr. Salama.  “And we’ve learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola.”

The focus now is on rural isolated communities in the Iboko health zone which will present logistical and other challenges, the statement said.

Dr. Salama described it as among the most remote territories on Earth, mainly inhabited by indigenous populations. WHO currently has 80 staff in the area.

“We’re talking about an enormous logistical effort required to reach every alert of a case. And then if there is a confirmation of a case, every contact of those cases,” he explained.
-0- PANA MA/AR 9June2018

09 june 2018 07:32:11




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