Sunday January 26, 2020

U.N. Secretary-General to Travel to Epicenter of Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC is no stranger to periodic outbreaks of the Ebola virus, but this most recent epidemic is the worst the African nation has seen in 40 years

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FILE - Health workers begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 16, 2019. The Ebola outbreak has been declared an international emergency after it spread to eastern Congo's biggest city, Goma, this week. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo next week.

The DRC is no stranger to periodic outbreaks of the Ebola virus, but this most recent epidemic is the worst the African nation has seen in 40 years.

The World Health Organization says the country has recorded more than 2,800 confirmed cases and at least 1,900 deaths from the virus, which spreads primarily through contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats or monkeys.

Guterres plans to visit the country for three days, arriving Aug. 31. His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters that Guterres wants to assess the situation and mobilize additional support for the response.

UN, Ebola, Outbreak
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo next week. Pixabay

“In the province of North Kivu, he is scheduled to meet with Ebola survivors and health workers during a visit to an Ebola treatment center,” Dujarric said.

He also is to meet with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in the capital, Kinshasa.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern.

The majority of cases have been concentrated in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, in the country’s northeast, but cases have emerged in other parts of the country.

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At least three cases were also confirmed in June in neighboring Uganda. The people infected with the virus there had traveled from the DRC and had been in contact with a relative who died of Ebola. (VOA)

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Pneumonia Outbreak in China Due to Newly Discovered Virus: Health Officials

China Blames Pneumonia Outbreak on Newly Discovered Virus

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Outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan has been caused by a new strain of the virus that led to the deadly SARS outbreak over a decade ago. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Health officials in China say an outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan has been caused by a new strain of the virus that led to the deadly SARS outbreak over a decade ago.

State-run Xinhua news agency says a team of scientists identified the new type of coronavirus after tests run on 59 people who have been hospitalized since early December.  The World Health Organization issued a statement Wednesday confirming the preliminary discovery of the virus.

Health officials in Hong Kong say as many as 38 people have been hospitalized in recent days after returning from Wuhan with flu or pneumonia-like symptoms.

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Commuters wear protection masks inside a subway train to protect themselves from pneumonia in Hong Kong. VOA

The outbreak comes just days before the Lunar New Year, when millions of Chinese will be traveling by planes, trains or buses to celebrate the holiday.  An official with China’s transportation ministry says the agency will begin efforts to disinfect public transportation stations and cargo hubs to prevent the spread of the virus.

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More than 8,000 people were sickened between 2002 and 2003 during an outbreak of sudden acute respiratory syndrome in China and Hong Kong, killing nearly 800 people and sparking a global health panic.  Another coronavirus has been linked to MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome, that has killed 851 people and sickened nearly 2,500 since it was first appeared in 2012. (VOA)