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WHO Calls Congo’s Ebola Risk ‘Very High,’ Convenes Emergency Committee; Health Officials Confirm 14 Of 45 Cases

Associated Press: Congo’s Ebola risk ‘very high’ as confirmed virus cases rise
“Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak now has 14 confirmed cases as health officials rush to contain the often deadly virus in a city of more than one million. … WHO now calls the risk to the public in Congo ‘very high’ and the regional risk high, with the global risk low. The Republic of Congo and Central African Republic are nearby…” (Mwanamilongo et al., 5/18).

CIDRAP News: As Ebola hits major DRC city, WHO convenes emergency panel
“…Also, the WHO [Thursday] said its Ebola emergency committee will meet [Friday] to decide if the developments warrant a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a step that would trigger temporary recommendations and heighten international efforts to battle the spread of the disease…” (Schnirring, 5/17).

The Guardian: Ebola reaches DRC city, raising epidemic fears as 11 new cases confirmed
“…Late on Thursday, the country’s ministry of health announced 11 new confirmed Ebola cases and two deaths, taking the total number of cases to 45 (14 confirmed, 10 suspected, 21 probable). The deaths have occurred in Bikoro, a rural area about 150km from Mbandaka…” (Burke, 5/17).

NPR: WHO Official Discusses Task Of Containing Ebola
“NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks to World Health Organization Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama about reports of Ebola hitting a port city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it much harder to contain…” (5/17).

STAT: WHO to weigh declaration of international emergency over Ebola outbreak
“… ‘While DRC has previously confronted eight outbreaks, the proximity of the current outbreak to neighboring countries, the dispersed pattern of cases, infection of health workers and confirmation in an urban center, connection of this major urban center (Mbandaka) with other major urban centers within DRC and neighboring countries via the Congo river are a cause for concern,’ said [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus], who traveled to the DRC last weekend to assess the situation and the response…” (Branswell, 5/17).

Wall Street Journal: Congo at ‘Very High’ Risk as Ebola Strikes Major City
“…Congolese officials are planning to start deploying an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Merck & Co. — the first doses of which arrived in the capital city of Kinshasa on Wednesday — in the coming days. However, heath experts have struggled to keep the vaccine at the necessary below-freezing temperatures in a tropical country with an unreliable electricity supply…” (Bariyo, 5/18).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, BBC News, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, The Hill, HuffPost, New York Times, Quartz, Reuters, and U.N. News.

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