WHO’s Tedros, CDC’s Redfield Speak About DRC Ebola Outbreak After Visiting Nation; Violence Continues To Hamper Response

CIDRAP News: WHO chief says much larger Ebola outbreak averted
“[Thursday] World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, in a press conference on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said, ‘We have averted a much larger outbreak, and we will not leave when the outbreak ends.’ … The press conference came on the heels of Tedros’s visit to the DRC last week with Robert Redfield, MD, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also comes on a day DRC officials added 5 new cases to the outbreak total and reported new acts of violence…” (Soucheray, 3/14).

STAT: Ebola response is working, WHO director general says, amid criticism and violence
“…The cautiously hopeful remarks from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who visited the outbreak zone last week, came just hours after the most recent attack on an Ebola treatment center, one in a series that has plagued efforts to bring this outbreak, now in its eighth month, to an end. As of Wednesday, there have been 927 cases in the outbreak and 584 deaths, making this the second largest Ebola outbreak on record. But Tedros, as he is known, said he is convinced the Congolese government and the international partners working on the response will get the job done…” (Branswell, 3/14).

The Telegraph: WHO chief insists long-running Ebola outbreak is being brought under control
“…Dr. Tedros’s more upbeat assessment was in stark contrast to analysis by Médecins Sans Frontières international president Dr. Joanne Liu last week. She told a press conference that despite deployment of new tools, such as a vaccine and an experimental medicine, there were no signs the outbreak was coming under control as around half of new cases were not from known chains of transmission. But Dr. Tedros disputed this. ‘One good news is that for the last seven months the disease has been contained in the geographical area called North Kivu. It hasn’t spread to other parts of the country and it hasn’t spread to other countries,’ he said. But he said he did not want to underplay the risk the disease continues to pose…” (Gulland, 3/14).

Washington Post: U.S. hopes to send more experts to Congo as Ebola outbreak rages
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to send experts to Congo in the next few weeks to train international and local personnel in the fight against a raging Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly 600 people and is far from under control, the CDC director said Thursday in an interview. Because of the worsening security situation, the CDC experts would not be based in the epicenter of the outbreak, in conflict-ridden parts of eastern Congo. … ‘This is a complicated response,’ Redfield said. The outbreak, now entering its eighth month, ‘is not under control’ and is likely to last through this year and into 2020, he said. ‘This late in the outbreak, and half of the cases are presenting dead,’ he said, an indicator that an unusually high number of infected people are not being identified when they fall ill. … Redfield spoke with the Washington Post after he and other U.S. officials testified before a Senate [appropriations subcommittee] panel about the ongoing outbreak…” (Sun, 3/14).

Washington Times: Rate of Ebola cases dropping but violence, mistrust impede progress warn experts
“…Senate appropriators said they were pleased that President Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget calls for $100 million to support the CDC’s global health security activities … Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, fired a warning shot, however, saying the administration cannot take its foot off the pedal or enact cuts in other parts of its health budget. She said investments under President Obama helped global responders defeat the worst-ever Ebola epidemic, which killed more than 11,000 in West Africa from 2013 to 2016. ‘We have to remember the dangers of falling back on ‘America first’ rhetoric,’ Ms. Murray said. ‘We cannot do this on the cheap. And we can’t pretend diseases are stopped by borders or walls or bans'” (Howell, 3/14).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak and response, as well as officials’ comments, is available from Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Axios, GeekWire, The Lancet, Reuters, U.N. News, and VOA News.

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