ekotracks Nutrition WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak an international health emergency on Wednesday following a surge in cases in the African country.

“The situation was declared an emergency by the WHO,” it said in posting a statement.

Almost weekly transmission of the virus had doubled over the past two weeks in Liberia, where it has killed 259 and infected an additional 1,238, but has registered no new cases since then.

The WHO’s emergency committee voted 2-1 against declaring the outbreak an international health emergency under the emergency rules, a rarity for the organization.

Doug Collins, the worldwide health program chief for the United Nations coordinating emergencies program, said the decision was an important milestone.

“Today the world is not asking to gut the response process of an entire nation,” he said.

More than 25,000 medical staff and allied health workers have been infected, and 220 have died, since the outbreak first emerged in the western African country in late 2014.

The epidemic has shocked Liberia, which had been largely spared the worst of the global death toll due to a severe lockdown that limited the movement of people and made it harder for health workers to get to the patients.

The 114 new cases announced just days ago in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia made it the biggest single-day jump since the virus was declared an international health emergency in the first half of 2019.

The nonprofit Save the Children Ebola Response Fund said on Wednesday it had spent $60 million to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, which has so far infected 2,987 and killed 251.

But the Sierra Leone government has only reported eight cases.


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