Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak now second largest in history: WHO

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak has been deemed as the second largest in history, the World Health Organization disclosed Thursday, in connection with the deadly West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, AP reported.

The organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Peter Salama, quoted by AP, called it a “sad toll” following Congo’s health ministry announcement that the number of cases reached 426, of which includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

The outbreak, which was declared on August 1, has 198 confirmed deaths, with another 47 probable ones, Congo’s health ministry said, as quoted in the AP report.

Rebel groups attacking health workers and open hostility by locals have been considered as serious challenges, Ebola experts have said, as per the report.

As per Salama’s prediction, the outbreak in northeastern Congo will last at least another six months.

Testing of four experimental Ebola drugs have begun. Despite that, Ebola outbreak in ‘red zones’, areas that are inaccessible due to the looming threat of rebel groups, is a major concern.

“This tragic milestone clearly demonstrates the complexity and severity of the outbreak. While the numbers are far from those from West Africa in 2014, we’re witnessing how the dynamics of conflict pose a different kind of threat,” said Michelle Gayer, senior director of emergency health at the International Rescue Committee, as quoted in the report.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, one group stated, as quoted in the report, that the U.S. government weeks ago ordered all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel, considered “some of the world’s most experienced outbreak experts”, from Congo’s outbreak zone because of security concerns.

A separate statement published in the New England Journal of Medicine said: “Given the worsening of the outbreak, we believe it’s essential that these security concerns be addressed and that CDC staff return to the field”, the AP report said.

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