The ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak has the potential to expand beyond the Equator Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to the capital city of Kinshasa and neighboring countries, WHO Deputy Director-General Peter Salama said on Wednesday.
“There are a few factors that have given us concern that the outbreak has the potential to expand. First, is the involvement of a town, Mbandaka, which is the capital of the Equator province … Secondly, that town is on the Congo River and its tributaries, which ultimately connect this outbreak potentially to Kinshasa and also the surrounding countries such as the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic,” Salama said at an information session on the Ebola outbreak of the 71st World Health Assembly.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, stated that the organization’s regional office was preparing DR Congo’s neighboring countries for the EVD prevention, Sputnik reported.
“As immediate next steps we will continue the capacity building and training of multidisciplinary teams in each of the countries on managing Ebola, starting with the Congo and the Central African Republic, and are helping them also to start working on their resource mobilization to up their preparedness,” Moeti said at the session.
The WHO in its response to the EVD outbreak is prioritizing nine countries neighboring the DR Congo: Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Zambia.
According to media reports, citing DR Congo’s Ministry of Public Health, the number of people now confirmed to be infected with the Ebola virus in the country has risen to 28, while a total of 51 EVD cases have been reported in the region.
The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from animals and is estimated by the WHO to have a 50-percent fatality rate. The DR Congo’s latest EVD outbreak was in July-November 2014. This was the country’s seventh outbreak. According to the information provided by the WHO, during the 2014 epidemic, a total of 66 EVD cases were registered, and as many as 49 cases resulted in death.