Countries in Africa will have to be on red alert and this has become necessary after the World Health Organization's warning on the spread of the deadly Ebola Disease. 

The health body has warned that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remained on an “epidemiological knife-edge” regarding the spread of the deadly Ebola disease, in spite of the quick response by authorities and international partners to the threat.

In Geneva at the World Health Assembly, Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, who heads Emergency Preparedness and Response, said that there were several reasons why the current outbreak – which has claimed 27 lives since it was declared on May 8 – had yet to be contained.

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“It’s hard to recall a situation of an outbreak where a Government has responded more quickly and more decisively than in this outbreak,” Salama said.

The WHO official added that it was “a multi-partner effort and it’s not over yet. We’re really just at the beginning”.

“I used the phrase yesterday that we’re on the epidemiological knife-edge of this response, the next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak will spread to urban areas or if we’re going to be able to keep it under control.”

Unlike previous Ebola events in DRC – this is the country’s ninth since 1976 — the 2018 outbreak has been complicated by the fact that it involved rural and urban areas, he said.

“This has raised the chances that it might spread both nationally and internationally,” Salama said.

He noted particularly since the city of Mbandaka – where the disease was identified after first surfacing in the relatively remote Bikoro – is close to the Congo river, which acts as the main transport link to DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

”With 58 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of the disease in the country as of Wednesday, effective tracing of anyone who had come into contact with the disease would “make or break” the response to Ebola,” Salama said.

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The WHO official confirmed that a selective, or “ring vaccination” programme had just begun and that efforts were ongoing to ensure that the Ebola drug could be stored in “ultracold” conditions at between -60 and -80°C.

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