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Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo

The response to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen significant improvements over the past weeks, including strong performances by field teams conducting vaccinations, and improved community engagement and risk communication in priority areas. However, as new cases continue to emerge from Beni and appear closer to security ‘red zones’, it is clear that risks remain and that strong response measures need to be prioritized. The virus’ spread is partly due to security conditions that severely impact frontline and health workers, at times forcing the suspension of response activities and increasing the risk that the virus may spread to neighbouring provinces and countries. The MoH, WHO and partners continue to rapidly adapt to these challenging circumstances, scaling up all pillars of the response: surveillance, contact tracing, community engagement, laboratory testing, infection prevention and control, safe and dignified burials, vaccination, and therapeutics. Due to the challenges faced in Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 1st Meeting of the 2018 International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee for Ebola Viral Disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo took place on 17 October. Due primarily to the strength and tempo of current response operations, it was the view of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not been met. The Committee further concluded that the current outbreak has several characteristics of particular concern: the risk of more rapid spread given EVD presence in urban environments; that there are several outbreaks in remote and hard to reach areas; and that health care staff have been infected. Risk of international spread also remains very high due to the outbreak’s proximity to significant regional traffic. Logistical challenges due to poor infrastructure continue to affect surveillance, case detection and confirmation, contact tracing, and access to vaccines and therapeutics.

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