The World Health Organization has declared Ebola in Congo as a case of a public health emergency of international concern.
The declaration was disclosed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO at a press conference today.
Tedros stated that the declaration concern is not a reflection on the performance of the Ebola response team in Congo but “a measure that recognizes the possible increased national and regional risks and the need for intensified and coordinated action to manage them".
He stated that the decision was made following the IHR Emergency Committee’s recommendation citing concerning the geographical expansion of the virus.
Robert Steffen, Chairperson of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, moved for the declaration of Congo as a case of international concern today.
The Emergency Committee emphasized the importance of continued support by WHO and other national and international partners in Congo towards the effective implementation and monitoring of these recommendations to the Ebola response.
Tedros said: "Although there is no evidence yet of local Ebola transmission in either Goma, Congo or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus. Dr Tedros referring to the recent Ebola cases: the priest in Goma and the woman who went to Uganda.
"Our risk assessment remains that the risk of Ebola spread in Congo and the region remains very high, and the risk of spread outside the region remains low.
"WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade, which rather than stopping Ebola, can actually hamper the fight. Such restrictions force people to use informal and unmonitored border crossings, increasing the potential for the spread of disease.
“Travel or trade restrictions will serve no useful purpose – already there have been more than 75 million screenings for Ebola at Congo border crossings and other checkpoints.
“The government of Congo is showing exceptional transparency in sharing information every single day. They are doing everything they can. They need the support of the international community. That includes its financial support.”
The Director General of WHO urged all countries to support DR Congo, stressing that now is the time for the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of DR Congo and not to impose punitive and counter-productive restrictions that will only serve to isolate the country.