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The US hopes to send more experts to Congo as the Ebola outbreak rages




Health workers are being seen in the "red zone" of an Ebola treatment center, which was attacked in Butembo, North Kivu province, Congo on March 9. (John Wessels / AFP / Getty Images)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hope to send experts to the Congo in the coming weeks to train international and local personnel in the fight against an angry Ebola outbreak, in which nearly 600 people were killed and is far from under control, the CDC director said in an interview on Thursday.

Due to the worsening security situation the CDC experts would not be stationed in the epicenter of the outbreak in conflict-ridden parts of the East Congo. Armed attacks on Ebola treatment centers in North Kivu province have increased in recent weeks. An attack took place hours before CDC Director Robert Redfield and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived as part of a WHO delegation last week to assess the situation on the ground. Another attack took place on Thursday, when an Ebola clinic was burned down by people who, according to the press, had set fire to a local official's house.

Three CDC employees are temporarily deployed about 200 miles south of the epicenter in 2003. The city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu, told Redfield. When US security personnel approve, "we hope to significantly expand this team to improve training," Redfield said in an interview. According to government sources, the CDC hopes to send up to 10 people for temporary training assignments.

"This is a complicated answer," said Redfield. The outbreak, which is now in its eighth month, is "out of control" and is likely to continue until this year and until 2020, he said. "This is late in the outbreak, and half of the cases are dead," he said, indicating that an unusually high number of infected individuals are not identified when they get sick.

When sick people do not go to clinics and treatment centers, "this is a catastrophic indicator of an Ebola response," Redfield said. "That tells you that the community does not help us. We need the community to become a key component of the public health Ebola response. "

During his trip to Congo, Redfield said, he and the other officials came to extort money from the institution on Saturdays hours after Ebola's attack into an Ebola clinic. "There were bullet holes in the windows," he said. The policeman guarding the front was killed. Two nurses were injured. "But it did not stop these workers from doing their job," he said. He all expressed concern that "they do not feel safe at work".

Redfield Speaks to the Washington Post After He and Other US Officials Testified Before a Senate Committee on the Ongoing Outbreak At least 932 people fell ill and killed 587. It was his first testimony to Congress since his appointment a year ago.

The US assessment was far more sober than that offered by the WHO chief. Tedros told reporters Thursday in Geneva that the Ebola outbreak could be stopped in six months. He pointed to several sites in northern Kivu that were stopping the transmission of the virus, and found that the number of new cases had been halved since January, with an average of 25 new cases reported per week, compared to 50 at the beginning of the year. He admitted, however, that violence, civil unrest and resistance remain a challenge.

The eruption of Ebola in the Congo is the most serious since an Ebola outbreak devastated three countries in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, killing more than 11,000 people. Ebola spreads through contact with the body fluids of its victims and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

Eastern Congo has been the scene of some of the world's greatest violence for the last quarter century The attempt to stem this Ebola outbreak is enormously complicated. Recent armed attacks forced Doctors Without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF, to withdraw from operating two of its Ebola clinics.

However, some experts say that the public health response is not keeping pace with the escalating crisis.

Experts agree that the only way to stem the outbreak is to quickly identify and isolate all cases and monitor the individuals they were in contact with to make sure they were offered an Ebola vaccine can be. Although nearly 90,000 vaccines have probably slowed down the transmission rate, vaccines have not stopped them.

"In recent weeks, a critical threshold has been crossed: deliberate targeted violence is now targeted at health care providers," said Steve Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The violence seems to be linked to many factors, including the recent controversial presidential election.

"There is no plan B," said Morrison. "There is no high-level diplomatic activism, and it is unlikely to exist until the outbreak spreads to external metropolitan areas. In matters of utmost security, political force and social commitment, something much bigger and stronger is needed. "

Although the CDC has deployed more than 100 staff in the Congolese capital and its neighboring countries, as well as WHO headquarters in Geneva, its highly qualified Ebola experts have a wide range of services not being sent to the epicenter because of the security situation.

"We currently need well-trained experts with deep experience in responding to Ebola and the popular resistance that often occurs in such outbreaks. Said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "The US government, especially CDC, is unsurpassed with this experience. We need to find a way for them to be safe in the field to participate meaningfully in the response.

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