02:05 GMT29 March 2020
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    Although the West African Ebola virus epidemic ended in 2016 – causing in excess of 20,000 deaths over a three-year period – the deadly disease has continued to claim lives in the region and still poses a threat to other parts of the world, as the virus can easily be transported through continents by a host.

    In response to the spreading of the Ebola virus to urban areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday that it has scheduled an “emergency meeting” tomorrow to assess the global risks this latest outbreak poses.

    The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee will come together on Friday to determine if the ongoing outbreak is a “public health emergency of international concern,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said on May 17, as cited by the Reuters news agency.

    If the WHO deems necessary, a concerted effort by the international community to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading to other parts of Africa and beyond – perhaps even to Europe – will be launched after the committee meets.

    READ MORE: Ebola Outbreak Confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, will meet health ministers and experts during next week’s annual assembly – its 71st – in the Swiss city of Geneva. In comparison to the widescale Ebola outbreak in 2013, the WHO is acting quickly to contain the situation and prevent the virus from spreading.

    In the meantime, the United Nations has deployed personnel to Congo to offer local authorities assistance. The UN’s emergency responders are being offered a shot of an experimental vaccine before they set off.

    “For the first time, we are offering vaccination to all international responders — and we’ll be doing that in Geneva and in Kinshasa,” WHO Deputy director-general Peter Salama said today in a telephone interview, according to Reuters.

    The VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine, which will be administered on Friday, was developed by US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., and is yet to receive its full license from the relevant authorities and agencies, but has been “proven safe and effective in trials.”

    READ MORE: Mobile Lab in DRC's Bikoro to Tackle New Ebola Outbreak — WHO


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