WHO deploys team to battle Ebola outbreaks

WHO deploys team to battle Ebola outbreaks
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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday it is sending a team of experts to Guinea and Congo to battle Ebola outbreaks there.

Health authorities in Guinea declared an Ebola outbreak on Sunday after identifying three cases, the first outbreak there since the virus ravaged the country in 2016. There have also been four confirmed Ebola cases in Congo.

More than 100 WHO staff are expected to be part of the effort, which will help with surveillance, contact tracing, testing and treatment and preparations for vaccination, among other things. The WHO has already released $1.25 million to bolster its efforts in Guinea and reinforce preparations to battle the virus in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

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“We are hard at work, shifting quickly through the gears to get ahead of the virus. With experts and emergency supplies already getting on the ground, the response is off to a strong start,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “Our collective, quick action is crucial to averting an uncontrolled spread of Ebola amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already pushed health workers and health facilities to the edge.”

Beyond the WHO’s efforts, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund has already doled out $15 million to boost the responses in Guinea and the DRC and assist neighboring nations to prepare for possible outbreaks of their own.

Guinea’s outbreak this month occurred in Goueke, which is a short distance from the tiny village of Meliandou, the origin of the 2013 pandemic that ultimately spread across the region and killed over 11,000 people. A two-year outbreak also ended in Congo just last year.