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  • WHO says there is a very high risk of the Ebola outbreak spreading to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

    WHO says there is a very high risk of the Ebola outbreak spreading to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 January 2019

The WHO official also explained that the current outbreak in the DRC will likely continue for another six months.

The World Health Organization is projecting that the devastating Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will worsen amid post-presidential election tensions.

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"This is the most complicated setting we've ever experienced in order to stop an Ebola outbreak," Peter Salama, World Health Organization (WHO) deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, stated in a CIDRAP interview. "At a minimum, it will take six further months to stop."

The outbreak is seemingly threatening to spill over into the larger cities of the African nation. Ebola being discovered in Kayina “raises the alarm” for the deadly virus to reach major thoroughfare Goma, Salama warned.

WHO has already deployed a rapid response team to Kayina with other teams placed on alert for Goma. “These are crossroad cities and market towns,” Salama said, about places like Goma, which is a major transportation hub with major highways that lead to Rwanda.

The WHO official also reiterated that the current outbreak in the DRC will likely continue for at least another six months and double in cases rapidly.

"If we can control the outbreak in Beni, we can do it anywhere," Salama urged, referring to the most active outbreak region which is experiencing a crippling scourge of violence. “The persistence of insecurity threatens to reverse recent progress achieved around disease hotspots such as Beni and Butembo,” the WHO official commented.

There are some 450 health personnel dispatched across the region by the global health body.  

Salama said instability and danger are the main issues posing challenges for healthcare workers in the outbreak zone, in addition to language in a lesser capacity.

WHO says there is a very high risk of the outbreak spreading to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

“Now it’s doubling – it’s very possible that it can double again,” Jean-Philippe Marcoux, Mercy Corps country director for DRC said. “If we don’t significantly increase the resources, it will keep increasing. It will spread progressively to other health areas and it will be there for a long time.”

The current Ebola outbreak in the DRC started in August 2017. WHO has since recorded some 668 confirmed or suspected cases and 410 deaths. 

DRC is also experiencing outbreaks of cholera, polio and malaria, WHO disclosed.

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