By Busra Nur Bilgic
ANKARA (AA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the “Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)”.
The declaration followed the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee’s fourth meeting since the outbreak was declared on August 1, 2018, according to a statement by WHO.
“Since it was declared almost a year ago the outbreak has been classified as a level 3 emergency – the most serious – by WHO, triggering the highest level of mobilization from WHO,” the statement said.
“The UN has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up to support the Ebola response,” it added.
“This is about mothers, fathers and children - too often entire families are stricken. At the heart of this are communities and individual tragedies,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“The PHEIC should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help,” he added.
The epidemic virus has killed 1,668 since the outbreak began in August 2018, according to WHO, with the epidemic limited to Beni and Butembo regions, northeast of the country.
France recalled that the epidemic is the "most serious" ever seen in the world, after the 2014 global alarm in West Africa, where more than 11,300 people died and an estimated 28,600 were infected as it swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Ebola -- a tropical fever which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the DRC -- can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.
It can also reportedly spread through contact with body fluids, infected persons or of those who have succumbed to the virus.