The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing a growing Ebola outbreak in its northwest Equateur province in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
At his COVID-19 news briefing in Geneva on Thursday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the outbreak is a “worrying” development, with 86 cases confirmed in the province.
He said the DRC government faces significant logistical challenges in trying to rapidly investigate and respond to the outbreak because the cases are spread over a vast area, sometimes separated by more than 250 kilometers, and many areas are accessible only by helicopter or boat.
Tedros said the WHO has about 100 staff in the DRC and is working with the Ministry of Health, nongovernmental agencies, and people in communities to address the outbreak. He said his agency has also released $2.5 million in emergency response funds to support the immediate response.
But he said more funding is needed to bring the outbreak under control and urged the international community to contribute.
He said the WHO, working with the DRC government as well as local and international partners collectively defeated a similar outbreak in the eastern part of the country, what he called “one of the most difficult Ebola outbreaks the world has ever faced.”
Tedros said he knows from experience that this is not just a matter for one country’s health security. “It is a matter of global health security. Whether it’s COVID-19, Ebola or other high impact epidemics, we must be prepared, we need to be on high alert and we need to respond quickly.”