The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging a ceasefire between armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as raging conflicts in the region have hampered efforts to stop a new Ebola outbreak which is transmitting freely, reports the Daily Mail.
So far 41 deaths had been reported as of August 1 between the DRC’s North Kivu province, including the cities of Beni and Mangina.
As the death toll in the outbreak declared on August 1 in DRC’s violence-wracked North Kivu province hit 41, the World Health Organization chief also called for the rapid roll-out of an unlicenced drug being used for the first time to treat Ebola patients.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva he feared conditions on the ground in the eastern province had created “a conducive environment for the transmission of Ebola.” –Daily Mail
Ghebreyesus, who traveled to the hot zones in Beni and Mangina in recent days, says that while he was worried before his trip – since his return “I am actually more worried.”
The latest outbreak now encompasses 57 probable and confirmed cases of Ebola in the DRC’s 10th outbreak since 1976, when the disease was first identified near the DRC’s Ebola river.
Beni was the scene of a 2016 massacre in which at least 64 people were killed by militants, bringing the toll to over 700 dead since October 2014.
in North Kivu, health workers are being forced to navigate their response among more than 100 armed groups, and Tedros said that there have been 120 violent incidents since January alone.
He said the region was sprinkled with so-called “red zones”, or inaccessible areas. –Daily Mail
“That environment is really conducive for Ebola … to transmit freely.”
“We call on the warring parties for cessation of hostilities, because the virus is dangerous to all. It doesn’t choose between this group or that group,” according to Ghebreyesus.
Meanwhile, there are currently 1,200 people living in the Mangina hot-zone who may all receive vaccinations after at least seven health workers were infected with the disease.
In a bid to halt the virus’s lethal advance, DRC health authorities said Tuesday that doctors in Beni had begun using a prototype drug called mAb114 to treat patients.
The treatment is “the first therapeutic drug against the virus to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC,” the health ministry’s directorate for disease control said.
Developed in the United States, the prototype drug is a so-called single monoclonal antibody — a protein that binds on to a specific target of the virus and triggers the body’s immune system to destroy the invader. –Daily Mail
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said in May that it was launching the first human trials of mAb114 to test for tolerance and safety. The WHO’s Ghebreyesus, meanwhile, said that five patients have received the unlicensed drug thus far, and that WHO is pushing for the roll-out “to speed up as much as possible.”
The experimental drug comes on the heels of an unlicensed vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, which was used during another DRC Ebola outbreak earlier this year after it was deemed safe and effective in trials during the 2013-2015 pandemic in West Africa. The vaccine is credited with playing a significant role in stopping the spread of Ebola throughout Equateur province, and is expected to be particularly useful during this new outbreak.
So far, 216 people – mostly front-line heal workers, have been jabbed with the vaccine since last week.