A total of 211 Ebola cases, including 135 deaths, have been reported in northeastern Congo
The WHO meets later this week to decide if this is an "emergency of international concern"
Personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have been stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help control the ongoing Ebola outbreak have been pulled back from the worst impacted areas due to safety concerns, a US government official familiar with the situation told CNN Monday.
“They are not in any hot spots,” the official said.
Since this most recent outbreak began on August 1, there have been 211 cases of Ebola, including 135 deaths as of Sunday, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic confirmed. Fifty-five patients have recovered from the illness. He said there has been a recent increase in cases because of “challenges faced by the response team.”
“For a couple of days we were not able to function really, and in the last couple of weeks we could not function at 100%,” said Jasarevic. Challenges include a spike in violence that led to a change in location for CDC responders.
“The recent spike in violent incidents makes the response more difficult, and increases the risk of spread not only in the DRC but also in neighbouring countries” Jasarevic stated in an email.
Another reason for the increase in the number of reported cases is “better reporting from the community,” said Jasarevic. Roughly half of the new cases reported in the last couple of weeks have come from the list of contacts (relatives, friends and others who came into contact with an infected person) that is compiled by health workers, while the remainder of cases required new investigations, according to Jasarevic.
The WHO will hold an emergency committee meeting this Wednesday in Geneva “to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage the outbreak,” according to an announcement released Monday.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said at a UN Security Council meeting that WHO had raised its risk assessment of regional spread from “high” to “very high.”
However, at that time, the risk of international spread outside Africa was regarded as “low,” he said: “We are very concerned about the potential for the virus to spread into Uganda, but also into Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi. We are working very closely with those governments on operational readiness for Ebola.”