The World Health Organisation (WHO) has introduced five new experimental drugs to treat Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following an Ebola outbreak in the country.
Authorities in DRC approved the use of the drugs on Monday, marking the first time such treatments have been available.
The WHO said four of the five approved drugs are currently in the country, which are Zmapp, GS-5734, REGN monoclonal antibody combination, and mAb114, under the framework of compassionate use and expanded access.
Clinicians working in the treatment centres will make decisions on which drug to use as deemed helpful for their patients, and appropriate for the setting.
The treatments can be used as long as informed consent is obtained from patients and protocols are followed, with close monitoring and reporting of any adverse events.
Earlier in May, WHO convened a group of independent scientific experts to evaluate investigatory therapeutics for EVD during the current outbreak in the DRC.
They found that there are many pathogens for which no proven effective intervention exists.
For some pathogens there may be interventions that have shown promising safety and efficacy in the laboratory and in relevant animal models, but that have not yet been evaluated for safety and efficacy in humans.
Under normal circumstances, such interventions undergo testing in clinical trials that are capable of generating reliable evidence about safety and efficacy.
WHO however, said in the context of an outbreak characterized by high mortality, it can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients investigatory interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials.
According to WHO statistics, as of Wednesday, a total of 58 EVD cases have been reported, including 27 deaths, 37 lab-confirmed, 14 probable and seven suspected cases.
Information about the extent of the outbreak remains limited and investigations are ongoing.
Currently, WHO considers the public health risk to be very high at the national level, and also sets the risk at the regional level and at high level.
Globally, the risk is currently considered low, but WHO said as further information becomes available, the risk assessment will be reviewed.
Meanwhile, the DRC, the WHO and partners have also developed a comprehensive strategic response plan for points of entry to avoid the spread of the disease to other provinces or at the international level.
The plan includes mapping strategic points of entry and the locations of areas where travelers congregate and interact with the local population, and therefore are at risk of Ebola virus disease transmission based on population movement.
The plan involves implementing health measures at the identified points of entry or traveler congregation points, such as risk communication and community engagement, temperature checks, provision of hand hygiene and sanitation materials, and the development of alert, investigation and referral procedures.
The WHO, however, has noted that the Ebola outbreak does not currently meet the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern, and that there should be no international travel or trade restrictions.
Rwanda: Kigali International Airport Reopens
Rwanda Airports have reopened for scheduled commercial flight operations on Saturday. All incoming and outgoing commercial passenger flights were suspended in march at the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. Only cargo and emergency flights were allowed to operate.
The ministry of infrastructure said in a statement all passengers, including those in transit, will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 PCR negative test from a certified laboratory. The test results must indicate they were taken within 72 hours of arrival in Rwanda.
The ministry also said a second PCR test will be done on passengers arriving in Rwanda, results of which will be made available to them within a day. They will have to stay in designated hotels at their own expense during the tests.
This is Rwanda’s latest move to gradually reopen its economy and is welcome news to RwandAir, Rwanda’s national carrier, which has been adversely affected by the disruption of air travel by coronavirus.
Libya To Impose Full Lockdown As Pandemic Cases Grow
After a sharp rise in coronavirus cases Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli has said a full lockdown will be reimposed in certain areas of the country it controls.
Libya’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), one of the few bodies that operates across the country despite the conflict, has confirmed 3,222 cases. However, the disease has been spreading more quickly this month.
Libya’s health system is in tatters after nearly a decade of chaos and war that has fragmented the state, destroyed infrastructure and left many people living in crowded conditions after fleeing their homes.
The lockdown which will start on Friday is going to last for at least five days, forbidding all movement outside except to buy necessities, and replacing a partial 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
Split since 2014 between areas held by the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east, Libya managed to avoid an early surge of the pandemic
According to the country’s health agency even as cases have also been confirmed in most other major population centres, the main outbreaks are focused in Tripoli, the port of Misrata and in the southern desert town of Sebha.
Seven Zimbabwe Babies Stillborn In One Night At Hospital
Zimbabwean doctors have on Wednesday said seven babies were stillborn in one night at a major hospital in the country this week because their mothers did not get adequate medical care due to a nurses’ strike.
The crippling health sector in Zimbabwe has been facing dispute over unhealthy working conditions in hospitals. Nurses are on strike nationwide because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other concerns, and the maternity wards were overwhelmed.
Nurses are demanding U.S. dollar salaries, which the government says it cannot afford. The health sector has recently been hit by a Covid-19 procurement scandal.
That has left government hospitals with skeleton staff and doctors and senior nurses stretched at a time when the country is grappling with rising COVID-19 cases.
Three doctors who work in the maternity and paediatric units told Reuters that out of eight pregnant women who underwent caesarean sections on Monday night at Sally Mugabe Hospital, the biggest in the country, only one successfully delivered a baby.
“This was preventable. Some ruptured their uterus because nobody was there to monitor them, so when interventions were made it was to save the mother,” one of the doctors said, declining to be identified because they are not allowed to speak to the press.
Another doctor said fresh stillbirths – meaning a baby that dies during labour or delivery – were just a window into the state of Zimbabwe’s public hospitals, which had become “dysfunctional and a death trap to citizens”.
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