The World Health Organization has explained a global health situation over the slow Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the deadly virus spread to a popular border town with Rwanda.
More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, according to WHO. And more than 30 new cases are reported each month in the Northeast DRC, which to a large extent is a regional war zone.
The epicenter is the city of Beni, where 46% of all new cases have been reported in the last three weeks, according to the WHO Emergency Committee studying the latest outbreak.
It was the fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee since the outbreak was declared on August 1, 2018.
The committee reported 2,512 confirmed or probable current cases, including 136 injured workers and 40 deaths.
This is the fifth global contingency declaration in history. Earlier emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the emergence of Zika in America, swine flu pandemic and polio.
Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, said in a statement: "This is an emergency. There is a very high risk that the Ebola outbreak could spread to neighboring countries, so the international community should quickly gather to see that it does not happen. "
The Emergency Declaration follows the discovery of a case 150 miles to the south of Beni in Goma, a city of 2 million with an international airport on the border with Rwanda.
Ebola is a highly contagious virus that spreads through direct contact with body fluids. It kills about 50% of the infected, many by internal and external bleeding. There is no cure or specific treatment currently approved for the market, although some vaccines have shown promise.
The pastor who took Ebola to Goma used several false names to hide his identity on his way to the city, Congolese officials said, according to the Associated Press.
WHO said the man had died and that health workers tried to track dozens of contacts, including those who had traveled on the same bus.
In addition, a sick Congolese fisherman traveled to Uganda and back while he was symptomatic – and later died of Ebola.
The WHO Emergency Committee said that the challenges of the fight against the outbreak meant that the community accepted the threat, delays in the detection and isolation of the virus, and the difficulty of tracking potential carriers in a very mobile population.  The local authorities focus on cross-border screening and highway screening and share information with other monitoring groups. The WHO warned that the commitment to cross-border parties would be largely closed down, which could say that it could lead to major financial distress in targeted areas and smothering co-operation.
"Extraordinary work has been done under almost difficult circumstances for almost a year. We are all guilty of these defendants – who come from not only the WHO but also the government, partners and communities – to shoulder more of the burden", Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros. Director General of the WHO, said Wednesday.
The Emergency Disease Working Party noted that vaccine deliveries are currently insufficient, but said that Merck, the US pharmaceutical company, was planning to double its supply.
Dr. Joanne Liu, President of the Doctors Without Borders, said she hoped the Emergency Name would lead to a radical restoration of Ebola's response efforts.
"The reality check is that one year in the epidemic is still not under control, and we are not where we should be," she said. "We cannot continue to do the same and expect different results."
Liu said that vaccination strategies should be expanded and that more efforts should be made to build trust in communities.
Contributors: Associated Press
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