Commission ready to support DR Congo in Ebola outbreak

A Liberian man walks past an Ebola awareness painting on a wall in downtown Monrovia, Liberia, 22 March 2015. [Ahmed Jallanzo/ EPA]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The European Commission said today (15 May) it was following the situation and was ready to provide support.

At least three people have died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east, the WHO said on Friday (13 May). This is the eighth outbreak of Ebola virus disease since its discovery in 1976 in the DRC. The WHO described the outbreak as “a public health crisis of international importance”.

The first case occurred on 22 April in a 45-year-old male. He was transported by taxi to hospital and was dead on arrival. The driver also fell ill and later died. A third person who cared for the first case also became ill and has subsequently died.

At present, 25 contacts of the second patient who died are being followed. Of the cases and deaths, one has tested PCR-positive for Ebola.

The DRC government notified WHO of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Likati health zone, Bas Uele Province, in the northern part of DRC bordering the Central African Republic. The Likati health zone is around 1,400 kilometres from the capital.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti visited Kinshasa on Friday to discuss with national authorities and partners ways to mount a rapid response in order to stop the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

More than 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Last year WHO said the outbreak had subsided.

West Africa passes Ebola ‘milestone’

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has subsided, leading the United Nations to call it a “milestone” for West Africa. EURACTIV’s partner El País – Planeta Futuro reports.

Asked by about the Commission’s response to the new reported outbreak, spokesperson Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela said the EU executive was “fully committed to provide all the support necessary”.

He said that Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who is the EU Ebola coordinator, together with colleague Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for health, were closely following the developments, and that the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) was taking preparatory measures.

The spokesperson said there has been a meeting organised by ERCC yesterday, for a potential EU intervention, to evaluate if the European Medical Corps capacities will be needed.

EU sets up medical corps after Ebola, Zika outbreaks

The EU wants to quickly respond to health emergencies,  such as the Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks in the future with a new medical corps, the European Commission said on Monday (15 February).

Asked about the need to advise EU citizens not to travel in certain areas, the spokesperson said the reported cases were in a remote part of the country, and among the 19 cases accounted there were no victims of European origin.

Professor: What the EU got right – and wrong – about the 2015 ebola epidemic

The 2014-15 ebola outbreak in the west African states of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia left 11,000 dead, caused global panic, and saw the EU and member states put up nearly €2bn in financial aid.

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