Ebola outbreak in Congo declared a global health emergency

Ebola declared an international emergency as disease spreads

Goma Ebola patient dead

But this month a pastor died after travelling to Goma, a city of 2 million and a gateway to other countries in the region.

Eight more people died from their Ebola infections, according to yesterday's update, raising the fatality count to 1,676.

Declaring a global health emergency often brings an increase in worldwide attention and aid.

However, the emergency committee did produce a large list of "strong" recommendations, including urging the worldwide community to provide more funds for combating the outbreak.

"The committee is concerned that a year into the outbreak, there are worrying signs of possible extension of the epidemic", the committee's report said.

A WHO expert committee had declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, which other experts say has long met the conditions.

The World Bank in May also pledged to release an additional $10 million from its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help with response; the WHO has to-date received $6.5 million, officials said at the press conference Wednesday.

The move comes on the heels of the Ebola virus spreading to the Congolese city of Goma, a major transportation hub along the Democratic Republic of the Congo's eastern border with Rwanda that's home to more than two million people.

When bans are in place, people tend to cross borders anyway, he said, yet do it secretively and hinder the Ebola response.

Local communities are perplexed and frustrated by continued increase in the number of people dying juxtaposed with a massive influx of worldwide organizations into the region during the past year. In June, the virus had made its way into Uganda, prompting World Health Organization to convene an emergency committee to determine whether a formal PHEIC should be declared.

Emergency declarations are issued sparingly.

World Health Organization had been heavily criticised for its sluggish response to the West Africa outbreak, which it repeatedly declined to declare a global emergency until the virus was spreading explosively in three countries and almost 1,000 people were dead.

The WHO has warned that the nearby countries of Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Uganda are the most at risk, while Central African Republic, Angola, Tanzania, Republic of Congo and Zambia are in a second tier. The WHO has said the regional Ebola risk is "very high". Dozens of rebel groups are active in Congo's northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent years. Officials who have visited the region say supplies are running short, including the protective gear health workers need to avoid becoming infected. Efforts to contain the virus have been hurt by mistrust among wary locals that has prompted deadly attacks on health workers.

In Uganda, the IRC is working to strengthen disease surveillance and outbreak response in high-risk border districts and ensure provision of high-quality, life-saving, primary healthcare services for Congolese new arrivals and Uganda host communities.

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