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WHO convenes emergency meeting after Ebola spreads to Uganda

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that a key emergency committee would meet following confirmation that an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo had spread to neighbouring Uganda.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 12, 2018 a member of the medical staff of the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) puts on her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during a weekly rehearsal at the Bwera General Hospital in Bwera bordering with DRC, western Uganda. – Uganda has confirmed two further cases of Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on June 12, 2019, after the death of a five-year-old boy in the first spread of a deadly outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Isaac Kasamani / AFP)

The panel will meet on Friday to determine whether to declare the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” a major shift in the mobilisation against the disease, it said.

The outbreak declared in August has recorded more than 2,000 Ebola cases in eastern DRC, two-thirds of them fatal. Uganda on Wednesday confirmed that three cases been recorded in the west of the country.

WHO’s emergency committee had in October and again in April held off declaring the DRC epidemic an emergency of international concern, in part because the virus remained contained in one part of DRC.

For the committee to make the emergency call, it must determine that the epidemic “carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border and may require immediate international action,” according to WHO.

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