Congo's Ebola outbreak not worldwide emergency

JOHN WESSELS via Getty Images

JOHN WESSELS via Getty Images

"I think the vaccine is helping", Tedros said.

He also emphasized that the WHO will keep in place 250 health workers now in-country fighting the disease.

The emergency committee reviewed the latest information on the latest outbreak and determined that it is of regional concern but not of global concern at this time.

"However, not so far a single case has been exported", said Robert Steffen, the head of the WHO's emergency advisory committee. Their efforts, by every standard, have been fruitful.

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Steffen said the committee had based its conclusions on three criteria - whether the outbreak was extraordinary, whether there was a risk of worldwide spread, and whether there was a requirement for an global response. In all likelihood, the trial will compare the four drugs, but the need for many participants in the clinical trials means "it will be a multicountry, multioutbreak, multiyear trial".

"The staff refused to even take a break, saying 'we don't want to break until this thing is finished, '" he said.

This is the 10th outbreak since 1976 in Congo, where the virus is endemic, and the second this year.

Now a high-level delegation from the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee of World Health Organization Geneva is in the country and they are visiting the border districts of Kasese, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kabarole to assess further the level of Uganda's preparedness.

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Weeks after the all clear was sounded after the Ebola outbreak recorded in Equateur province in the DRC last May, another outbreak occurred in the conflict-torn North Kivu province in the east of the central African giant.

The DRC Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners have been responding to the outbreak with teams on the ground, but WHO has warned that continuing insecurity severely affects both civilians and frontline workers, forcing the suspension of the response for several days in late September, and raising the risk that the virus will continue to spread.

Tedros stressed though that the decision not to use the label for the epidemic that has killed at least 139 people in DRC's violence-torn North Kivu region since August "does not mean that World Health Organization is not taking the outbreak seriously".

Steffan said the committee agreed that declaring an worldwide emergency at this time would hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus.

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