Thanks to Greg Folkers for tweeting the link to this new DON from WHO: Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo. Excerpt:
Public health response
The Ministry of Health has initiated response mechanisms in North Kivu and Ituri provinces with support from WHO and partners. Priorities include the establishment and strengthening of surveillance, contact tracing, laboratory capacity, infection prevention and control (IPC), clinical management, vaccination, risk communication and community engagement, safe and dignified burials, response coordination, cross-border surveillance, and preparedness activities in neighbouring provinces and countries.
• On 2 August 2018, the Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the WHO Representative and representatives of several partner agencies visited Mabalako Health Zone (the epicentre of the outbreak) and Beni to assess and support the local response.
• The Ministry of Health and WHO have deployed Rapid Response Teams to the affected health zones to initiate response activities. As of 7 August, WHO has deployed 30 technical and logistics specialists to support response activities. Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) partner institutions continue to support the WHO response to Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as ongoing readiness and preparedness activities in non-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in nine bordering countries.
• On 8 August, the vaccination of frontline health care workers started, followed by the vaccination of community contacts and their contacts. There are currently 3220 doses of rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine available in Kinshasa. A clinical team with therapeutics arrived on 7 August.
• Ebola treatment centres have been established in Mangina and Beni, with the support of international partners. The deployment of experienced clinicians to support partners in caring for patients is in process.
• On 3 August 2018, two GeneXpert machines were set up in Beni to facilitate the timely diagnosis of suspected cases. The establishment of additional laboratory capacity elsewhere is being explored, including additional GeneXpert machines in Mangina, Goma and other areas as needed. The INRB is working to deploy additional diagnostic capacities in Mangina, including conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR), serology, haematology and biochemistry.
• The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo Red Cross to establish systems to ensure safe and dignified burials throughout the affected zones. Currently, two teams are operating from Beni and are covering the affected areas.
• The WHO Regional Emergency Director for Africa has informed neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and South Sudan) of the outbreak and emphasized the need for heightened surveillance and preparedness actions in the respective countries, particularly along the border with North Kivu.
• Thirty-two key points of entry have been identified in which to strengthen capacity to rapidly detect and respond to potential new Ebola virus disease cases and to engage communities along border areas to improve knowledge of Ebola virus disease and its prevention.
• Activities to sensitize communities to the outbreak began in affected communities through the Social Mobilization Commission, and in neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda. WHO and partners have held a series of briefings with community and neighbourhood leaders, teachers, religious leaders, journalists, and community groups to raise awareness about Ebola, including information on the current outbreak and preventive measures.
• As of 8 August, three charter cargo planes from Mbandaka arrived in Beni with a total of 23 tonnes of supplies. A further charter is scheduled to depart Dubai with 20 000 sets of viral haemorrhagic fever Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 50 000 sets of standard PPE.
WHO risk assessment
This latest outbreak of Ebola virus disease is affecting north eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are in close proximity to Uganda. Potential risk factors for transmission of Ebola virus disease at national and regional levels include the transportation links between the affected areas, the rest of the country, and neighbouring countries; the internal displacement of populations; and displacement of Congolese refugees to neighbouring countries.
The country is concurrently experiencing several epidemics and a long-term humanitarian crisis. Additionally, the security situation in North Kivu may hinder the implementation of response activities. Based on this context, the public health risk is considered high at the national and regional levels and low globally.