The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have announced the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in the D.R.C., nearly six months after another outbreak of the virus was reported in Equateur province.
The Kivu Ebola epidemic began early August 2018, and wound down in June 2019. It was finally declared over in late June this year. But another outbreak and current 11th Ebola outbreak surfaced in Equateur province with 119 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. The two outbreaks within two years were geographically far apart. Genetic sequencing analysis found that they were unrelated.
The outbreak took place in communities scattered across dense rain forests as well as crowded urban areas. More than twenty-two hundred persons died of Ebola in both outbreaks.
W.H.O. Has congratulated responders and all those who tirelessly tracked cases, provided treatment, engaged communities and vaccinated more than 40,000 high risk persons. It also thanked a wide range of partners for their support.
Vaccinators used an innovative cold chain storage to keep the Ebola vaccine at temperatures as low as -80 degrees celsius. The arktek freezers can keep vaccines at very low temperatures in the field for up to a week and enabled responders to vaccinate people in communities without electricity.
“overcoming one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who regional director for Africa. “the technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine at super-cold temperatures will be helpful when bringing a covid-19 vaccine to Africa. Tackling Ebola in parallel with covid-19 hasn’t been easy, but much of the expertise we’ve built in one disease is transferrable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity.”
Equateur province was also the site of the country’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which was overcome in a little over three months in 2018 and had half as many cases reported. However, the response to the 11th Ebola outbreak had to contend with the covid-19 pandemic, which strained resources and created difficulties around the movement of experts and supplies. There were also challenges around the large number of cases in remote communities which were often only accessible by boat or helicopter and at times community resistance hampered response efforts.
Under the leadership of the DRC government, most responders were mobilized locally, and they moved quickly, despite important logistical and access difficulties. Vaccination efforts began just four days after the outbreak was declared. Around 90% of the vaccinators were from local communities. The response also tapped into the expertise of local health workers trained during the two recent outbreaks in the DRC. Responders worked closely with community members to increase understanding of the virus by visiting more than 574 000 households and providing more than 3 million people with pertinent health and safety information.
At the height of the outbreak there were more than 100 who experts on the ground, supporting the government’s response. While the 11th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining strong surveillance as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come. In this regard, who and other partners are currently conducting important actions for improving critical operational capacities in Equateur province, including training frontline workers.
The end of this outbreak serves as a reminder that governments and partners must continue to focus attention on other emergencies, even as the fight against covid-19 persists. There is a need for greater investment in strengthening the core capacities of countries in the implementation of the international health regulations. Enhancing preparedness will lead to improved response to threats arising from epidemic prone diseases and result in less social and economic impact.
Kenya Is Keen O Strengthening Trade And Investment Ties With Europe
Kenya has expressed its willingness to foster a strong trade and investment relationship with Europe. In that regard, president Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed the need for his country to work closely with the European Union to give private sector players the confidence to invest in the country and create jobs for Kenyan youths. This was expressed during a virtual meeting between Kenyatta and the European Council president, Charles Michel.
The Kenyan leader also proposed a change of approach in the Africa-Europe cooperation model to make it more commercially oriented where the private sector will invest on the basis of returns, but at the same time, creating opportunities for the continent.
On his part, Michel agreed with Kenyatta that there was need for Kenya and the rest of Africa to deepen their mutually-beneficial partnership with Europe.
He said the global covid-19 pandemic had presented Africa and the European Union an opportunity to strengthen their ties in sectors such as health, infrastructure and governance.
Madagascar Takes Last Stand On COVID-19 Vaccine, Refuses Immunization
Madagascar has affirmed its decision not to participate in the global coronavirus vaccine initiative- COVAX for the access to COVID-19 vaccine once they have been approved and licensed.
The government spokesperson confirmed the island will instead resort to its traditional herbal mixture that its own scientists discovered earlier this year to stem the virus. The World Health Organization has not approved the mixture.
Vaccines in Madagascar have never been popular among the general population. The island in 2018 was among the last four countries in the world registering polio cases from its stance on vaccines.
Meanwhile, the government spokesperson said they were waiting to see the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine first in the countries that will first use it.
The World Health Organization has urged on Friday countries in Africa to prepare for the arrival of a vaccine as soon as possible. W.H.O warned that African countries are far from ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, whenever one becomes available.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention AfricaCDC has also said vaccinating people will be a big challenge in Africa where more than 2.1 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed –that’s less than 4% of the global total cases.
People on the Africa continent have been urged to rely on the public health measures that have been put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Arrests At Kenya Airport Over ‘Fake’ COVID Papers
At least 21 travellers who were headed to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been arrested by Kenya airport officials in Nairobi for using faked certificates declaring them free of COVID-19.
Earlier this week the UAE decided to stop giving visas to citizens of 13 countries, including Kenya, Somalia, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.
Local media report that the ban was imposed after travellers from Kenya were found with fake certificates upon arrival in the Gulf state.
Amid rising cases of coronavirus, Kenyan government on Thursday announced they are limiting the number of guests at wedding ceremonies. The number of guests allowed has been reduced to 50 because of rising coronavirus cases in Kenya.
The inter-faith council said even food in weddings will only be served to the parents and siblings of the wedding couple. Church services will now not take more than 90 minutes.
Kenya has recorded 80,102 confirmed coronavirus cases including 1,427 deaths.