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Congo's Ebola outbreak still an emergency of international concern

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo, despite the consistently declining numbers of affected cases during the past weeks, still stands as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.

Xinhua news agency reported the WHO decision was made after the fifth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee, convened by the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday.

Latest numbers from the WHO show that a total of 3,228 Ebola cases have been reported in Congo, including 3,114 confirmed and 114 probable.

In recent weeks, the incidence of cases has consistently declined.

However, the hot spots of the outbreak have shifted from urban settings to more rural, hard-to-reach communities across a more concentrated geographic area, where the potential for the disease to spread to new areas increases if response activities are suspended.

Insecurity, meanwhile, remains the greatest concern, even as efforts to increase security are underway, the WHO said, underlining that a higher priority, for now, is to identify areas where the virus might migrate and securing these areas.

While maintaining that Congo's Ebola risk remains very high at national and regional levels but still low at global level, the WHO recommends all-risk countries work urgently with partners to improve their preparedness for detecting and managing imported or locally-acquired cases.

According to the WHO emergency committee, the current major challenge is the lack of funding for preparedness.

Of the $ 6.6 million required for Congo's nine neighboring countries, only $ 4.5 million has been pledged.

– Bernama

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