The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in Wangata, one of the health zones of the regional capital, Mbandaka, where more than 1 million people live.
The World Health Organization had earlier this week reported two probable Ebola cases in Wangata, affecting two brothers who returned from a funeral in Bikoro, the epicenter of the outbreak. According to Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, Minister of Health of the country, was later tested positive for Ebola.
In confirmation of the Ebola case, Kalenga announced in a statement that the outbreak had spread to a "new phase" because an "urban health zone" is now affected by the disease.
"It is very disturbing," said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told HuffPost. "Look, the reason why most Ebola epidemics are quickly disappearing is that they were mostly in rural areas, so there were not many people who spread it."
When Ebola enters an urban zone There are more people who could spread the disease and more contacts that health officials should follow, Jha said, making it harder to persecute and contain them. On Monday, 432 contacts were monitored for Ebola.
"The turning point is when more cases of [this Wangata case] emerge," said Jeremy Konnydyk, who led parts of the 201
Another important concern is that Mbandaka, which contains Wangata's health zone, is located on the Congo, the "Central African Highway", according to Konyndyk.
This proximity to the Congo creates a possible path The disease will travel to the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa, where more than 12 million people live. Then in the immediate north, is the capital of the neighboring Republic of Congo, Brazzaville, with a population of 2 million. And the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, where over 730,000 people live, is not too far away.
It is very disturbing. The reason why most Ebola epidemics quickly disintegrated is that they were mostly in rural areas.
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute
While some fear a repeat of the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 killed over 11,000 people – in which the WHO was flatly criticized for a slow response – Jha and Konyndyk say two key factors, which significantly reduces the risk of current events sinking into a major tragedy: The world is watching and health workers are using an effective, albeit experimental, vaccine that could only be tested in 2015.
The first batch of the unlicensed Ebola vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck arrived in the DRC capital Kinshasa on Wednesday. It is targeted for "exposed health professionals, people who have come in contact with confirmed cases and contacts of these contacts," according to Kalenga.
However, according to Jha and Konyndyk, the time will tell if this outbreak will be much worse – something that has disturbed Ron Klain, who served as the Ebola Tsar during the last major crisis under President Barack Obama.
[urban case announcement] confirms my concern that the government's early calming news was premature, "he told HuffPost," which requires a more urgent and inclusive response and the need for increased US leadership and participation. "
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, tweeted on Wednesday that he met with the US Secretary of Health on Tuesday Alex Azar and the head of the US Agency for International Development Mark Green
The US National Security Council, which dissolved its global department on health security, focused on combating pandemics last week, the day on which the Ebola outbreak has been announced – now coordinates the US Ebola response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID, according to an NSC spokesman.
Andrea Hall and dr. Luciana Borio are This answer, the spokesman told HuffPost. Hall heads the NPC for weapons of mass destruction, which dumped some global health workers working under the now defunct Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer had operated. Borio is the head of the readiness policy for medical and biological protection and was previously in Ziemer's team.
The spokesman said the CDC office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hired its 26 employees – 18 of whom are locally employed – outbreak. It also sent an epidemiological lead and a security expert to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A high-level Ebola expert will be traveling to the country shortly, and the agency has offered "technical expert assistance for surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, infection control, border health screening, health communications, vaccinations and emergency management," added the spokesperson. USAID has also sent personal protective equipment and laboratory equipment for testing.
The spokesman also said that the CDC completed 150 "Disease Detectives" from the Field Epidemiology Training Program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, helping to set up and assist their National Emergency Operations Center in making their own self-assessment.
However, the Wall Street Journal called the Democratic Republic of the Congo in February as one of the countries at risk of losing global health-security funding. It is unclear whether Congress's recent $ 50 million funding to the CDC for global health security in 2018 will fill the gap and rescue DRC programming.
And last week, Trump proposed to cut the Ebola funds by $ 252 million to US agencies through a liquidation.
The CDC and USAID should have all the resources they need. It will cost us more in every way if we do not provide the resources we need now.
Beth Cameron, Nuclear Threat Initiative
"The US, its partners and WHO should pull out all stops – now and before the disease spreads – to help DRC halt the spread of Ebola", said Beth Cameron, who served as Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biological Defense for the NPC under Obama, and is currently Vice President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative for Global Biological Research Policy and Programs. "The CDC and USAID should have all the resources they need, and we know that it will cost us more in every way if we do not now provide the resources we need."
The WHO Emergencies Emergency Fund, the Wellcome Trust, The United Kingdom, the United Nations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have contributed $ 8 million to stem the outbreak, which will cost at least $ 26 million in three months, according to WHO estimates. However, that was before news of the confirmed case in Wangata.
Although only three cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been officially confirmed, 41 other suspected or likely cases have been reported since the epidemic began. In 23 cases, patients have died, said Kalenga, the country's minister of health.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has ordered free health care in the affected areas in the face of confirmation of the new case. Kalenga also warned people against "touching and washing the deceased absolutely".
Unsafe burials were an important source of transmission in 2014. According to Reuters the WHO has sent 300 body bags to the affected communities to ensure safe burial during the current outbreak.
"This gesture [of not touching and washing the deceased] could shock, but it can save your life the whole community," said Kalenga.
This is an evolving story. Please look for updates.