World Health Organization sounds Ebola alarm as risks intensify

World Health Organization sounds Ebola alarm as risks intensify

The declaration by an emergency committee at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva elevated the disease and the efforts needed to combat it to a significantly higher level of concern.

A Congolese woman who died of Ebola this month vomited four times in a Ugandan market after crossing the border days earlier to sell fish, the World Health Organization said, fuelling fears that the virus may be spreading beyond Democratic Republic of Congo.

But this month a pastor died after travelling to Goma, a city of 2 million and a gateway to other countries in the region.

"He has sounded a global alert, giving the clearest possible signal that WHO needs more financial and human resources", said Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University.

Two people, including a 5-year-old boy who tested positive for Ebola after traveling home to neighboring Uganda, also died, according to the Ugandan health ministry. "They need the support of the worldwide community", Dr. Tedros said. They also reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.

The World Bank in May also pledged to release an additional $10 million from its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help with response; the WHO has to-date received $6.5 million, officials said at the press conference Wednesday.

But the panel was persuaded by several factors that have made combating the epidemic more urgent in recent weeks: The disease reached Goma, a city of almost 2 million people; the outbreak has raged for a year; the virus has flared again in spots where it had once been contained; and the epidemic hot zone has geographically expanded in northeastern Congo near Rwanda and into Uganda.

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Local communities are perplexed and frustrated by continued increase in the number of people dying juxtaposed with a massive influx of worldwide organizations into the region during the past year.

Rwanda's health minister, Diane Gashumba, said her country is taking precautionary measures after the pastor who contracted Ebola crossed Goma's bustling border into Rwanda.

Emergency declarations are issued sparingly. It's second only to the 2014-2016 epidemic in multiple West African countries that infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its border with Uganda is more than 540 miles long. There are now no confirmed cases of Ebola in Uganda, according to the WHO.

The current outbreak is spreading in a turbulent Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active and where Ebola had not been experienced before.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person, either directly or through contaminated surfaces, needles or medical equipment. WHO on Tuesday said the man had died and health workers were scrambling to trace dozens of his contacts, including those who had travelled on the same bus.

The WHO expert committee met last month after the outbreak spread into nearby Uganda.