July 31st, 2019 -- On Wednesday, July 17, 2019 the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared a Public Health Emergency of International (PHEIC) Concern by the Director General of the world Health Organization (WHO). The outbreak has been ongoing for almost one year. However, a surge in the number of cases was recently noted along with geographic spread or expansion. Last week, a patient with confirmed EVD travelled from the Beni health zone, to Goma which is a densely populated city near the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of Africa and the world.
According to the WHO’s Ebola dashboard, the outbreak now totals 2,671 cases and 1,782 deaths. Ebola is a highly contagious virus that causes a rare but severe and often fatal illness in humans. The time interval from infection to onset of symptoms ranges from two to 21 days. Infected individuals experience general symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain and headache. The individual's condition usually progresses, with experiences of vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, kidney failure, and most importantly, internal and external bleeding. There are two experimental vaccines which are being tested. However, at present there is no definitive cure for the Ebola Virus Disease. The management of Ebola Virus Disease involves the treatment of symptoms and supportive care.
Based on the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the risk of Ebola Virus Disease in the African region remains very high but the risk is low internationally/ globally. This committee has stated that no country should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel or trade. The committee does not consider it necessary to conduct screening at ports of entry outside Africa at this time.
The risk of Ebola Virus Disease in the Eastern Caribbean region is low. However, the National Ebola Virus Disease Committee has already been mobilized. The National Ebola Virus Disease Preparedness, Response and Recovery Plan is being updated and surveillance at the ports of entry is being strengthened. The Ministry of Health wants to assure the general population that critical steps are being taken to ensure the highest level of preparedness to effectively mitigate the impact of an Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. The Ministry of Health will continue to collaborate with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and other regional partners to strengthen health security in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
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