WHO Declares a Global Ebola Health Emergency

Ebola Virus
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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Given documented cases of Ebola survivors becoming long term symptomless carriers, this outbreak should worry everyone, though for now the WHO claims the risk of the Ebola outbreak spreading outside the afflicted region is not high.

Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
17 July 2019 News release

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said Dr. Tedros. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders — coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities — to shoulder more of the burden.”

The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC. The Committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

This was the fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018. 

The Committee expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response. They also reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open. It is essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities.

“It is important that the world follows these recommendations. It is also crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region,” said Professor Robert Steffen, chair of the Emergency Committee.

Since it was declared almost a year ago the outbreak has been classified as a level 3 emergency – the most serious – by WHO, triggering the highest level of mobilization from WHO. The UN has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up to support the Ebola response.

In recommending a PHEIC the committee made specific recommendations related to this outbreak.

“This is about mothers, fathers and children – too often entire families are stricken. At the heart of this are communities and individual tragedies,” said Dr. Tedros. “The PHEIC should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help.”

Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/17-07-2019-ebola-outbreak-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-declared-a-public-health-emergency-of-international-concern

Although Ebola is not an airborne disease in humans, at least one study has suggested pigs infected with Ebola can infect other animals via airborne transmission. Given evidence of airborne transmission in other species, the virus seems physically robust enough to survive airborne transmission; we may only be a few unlucky mutations away from an airborne human strain of Ebola.

The appearance of Ebola in Goma, a city of international business and fly-in mining consultants, is a serious concern, both for the people of Goma and for everyone else. The documented potential for Ebola survivors to become long term symptomless carriers, capable of passing on the disease through sexual or casual contact, in my opinion undermines the WHO’s dismissal of the risk of Ebola spreading. While I appreciate the WHO’s obvious desire not to impose additional burdens on the people they are helping by declaring a quarantine, the safety of my family is a higher priority to me than the economic wellbeing of poor people in the DRC.

Having said that, the vaccine is claimed to be very effective; even if an outbreak occurs in a vulnerable Western population such as the large groups of homeless people living in California, it should be possible to rapidly contain the threat, providing there is sufficient vaccine available.

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Thomas Homer
July 18, 2019 10:43 am

[ “Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch,” Obama said. “It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.” ]

We simply need to send more busses to Goma.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 18, 2019 6:37 pm

Obviously, too many human beings exist and populations must be reduced.
Just ask any of the climate- concerned.
Here’s a great idea: if a swarm of over a hundred refugees from Congo show up on our Southern border, let’s buy them bus tickets and disperse them across the country, unchecked.
Oh, wait. They’ve tried that already and so far, we’re not stricken. Better luck next time.

July 18, 2019 10:52 am

Uh Oh.

the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people

It has broken quarantine. A case in the big city was the exact scenario they were attempting to prevent. If it got loose from it’s previous area of confinement, they knew thing would get much worse very fast.

They also reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open. It is essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities.

A tacit admission that they have no ability whatsoever to control movement along the traditional trade routes in the area. Otherwise, this statement of declining a quarantine would be madness.
Between the lines the message is clear. The disease has broken it’s previous quarantine, and they have no real hope of stopping it where it is now.
This particular region of Africa has lakes and rivers running North-South and historically been a very important set of trade routes, as it is today. Big trouble.

Curious George
Reply to  TonyL
July 18, 2019 4:15 pm

Is Mr. Mugabe of Zimbabwe fame still their Goodwill Ambassador?

July 18, 2019 10:52 am

WHO was caught asleep at the switch once before so now everything is a global emergency.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  ResourceGuy
July 18, 2019 2:26 pm

WHO was?

I dunno.

Third base!

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
July 18, 2019 3:20 pm

Who’s on first,
What’s on second,
I don’t know is on third,
Tomorrow is pitching, and Today is catching.

Garland Lowe
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
July 18, 2019 9:50 pm

Why, I don’t give a Darn, Because

July 18, 2019 10:56 am

> Having said that, the vaccine is claimed to be very effective; even if an outbreak occurs in a vulnerable Western population such as the large groups of homeless people living in California, it should be possible to rapidly contain the threat, providing there is sufficient vaccine available.

My kids needed to be inoculated for measles and whooping cough because we live in Southern California. Your assumption that this disease vector can be contained presumes a legal and compliant population.

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
July 18, 2019 11:56 am

And we are talking about a country where Ebola aid workers and doctors are routinely killed because of superstitions regarding the disease.

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
July 18, 2019 12:10 pm

Rob, your kids needed to be vaccinated against pertussis and measles because they are vulnerable. The fact that CA requires you to act responsibly for your children merely indicates that the bureaucrats in CA aren’t completely stupid.

July 18, 2019 11:00 am

I remember people totally freaking out over SARS.

The atmosphere of fear and uncertainty surrounding the outbreak resulted in staffing issues in area hospitals when healthcare workers elected to resign rather than risk exposure to SARS. link

Cliff Hilton
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 18, 2019 2:32 pm

@Eric Worrall

“I was in Taiwan during a SARS outbreak. They contained the outbreak by spending money like water; every hotel had a government paid doctor checking guests every day, thermal imaging cameras and random police checks everywhere (first symptom of SARS is a high fever).”

Yes, if you arrived in Taipei, you would exit the plane and be directed towards the thermal scanner while heading to securing your luggage. Police were near by looking for other signs of infection. Luckily, myself and my wife were healthy and continued on our three week vacation there.

Taiwan is very proactive in any and all health concerns.

R Shearer
Reply to  Cliff Hilton
July 18, 2019 4:08 pm

Last time I was in Hong Kong they had thermal imagers at every customs station.

In any case, there are no inspections of illegal immigrants who sneak over our border. Don’t rule out the possibility of a terrorist attack carried out in this manner. It is insane not to have border control and the above is just one reason for doing so.

Curious George
Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2019 6:19 pm

“I remember people totally freaking out over SARS.”
Today they are freaking out over Greta Thunberg.
Some are freaking over nuclear energy.

We need media bringing news, not unsupported opinions.

July 18, 2019 11:01 am

Much ado about nothing IMO. Isn’t it ‘funny’ how ebola is supposedly highly infectious, yet never spreads beyond heavily deforested and war-torn areas in central Africa among populations that are chronically malnourished and burdened with numerous endemic diseases that all have symptoms similar to early stage ebola? My working hypothesis at the moment is that many (most?) of the deaths are caused by the medical treatments patients receive.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  icisil
July 18, 2019 11:53 am

No, the virus kills them. Most of the medical treatments are an attempt to support the body’s immune system, so iv fluids, electrolytes & oxygen, then anti-emetics & anti-diarrheal drugs, analgesics & treatment for commensal infections.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 18, 2019 1:27 pm

Common ebola treatments are dextrose IVs, acetaminophen (for fever), both of which deplete the body of vitamin C, antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs that both deplete the body of vitamin K (necessary for blood clotting). The later stages of ebola mimic scurvy (long-term severe vitamin C deficiency) with uncontrolled bleeding from orifices. So if a chronically malnourished person with a vitamin C deficiency shows up at a clinic, or if ebola causes a vitamin C deficiency, those regimens would have the opposite effect of supporting ebola patients’ immune systems.

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  icisil
July 18, 2019 3:52 pm

Try reading Tom Clancy’s “Executive Orders”, in which President Jack Ryan must face a bio-warfare attack that uses Ebola. Clancy did his research into what Ebola does to a body. Essentially, the patient bleeds to death and suffers multiple organ failure. There is no cure, the best that hospitals can do is to try to keep you from dying and hope that your 8mmune system can outpace the virus.

Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
July 19, 2019 4:24 am

its the massive immune response that causes problems, basically cytokine storm as the response then pushes the already stressed organs over the top. but yes also chronically malnourished people make easier targets for any bugs going.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  icisil
July 18, 2019 5:34 pm

It is “highly infectious” when it comes to fluid contact. It is not airborne in humans. It is more like Hepatitis or HIV.. it kills much faster, rather than letting people carry and transmit it over the course of years or decades.

Another thing that also helps it from spreading is that these “chronically malnourished and burdened” people can’t escape those areas. They aren’t hopping on planes for Paris, NY, LA, Hong Kong, etc. Ebola typically remains confined to the regions where the outbreaks start.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
July 21, 2019 2:36 pm

Another thing that also helps it from spreading is that these “chronically malnourished and burdened” people can’t escape those areas.

They aren’t hopping on planes for Paris, NY, LA, Hong Kong, etc.

Ebola typically remains confined to the regions where the outbreaks start.

Drug dealers from Congo ARE hopping into planes. Weakly.

They sit in the public buses all day and serve their customers. The next day they fly home. Then the next dealer is sent from Congo.


Reply to  icisil
July 18, 2019 6:43 pm

… chronically malnourished and burdened with numerous endemic diseases …

Good observation. In The Fourth Horseman, Andrew Nikiforuk notes that plagues tend to spread among populations that are already weakened. This is why AIDS spread so easily among populations that engaged in unhealthy and dangerous activities and not much outside those groups. Of course, these days that observation is politically incorrect. On the other hand, if you belong to a group whose behavior shortens your life by about twenty years, that little extra dose of political correctness will do you no good. Just saying.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  commieBob
July 19, 2019 2:18 am

HIV is a major problem in Africa, amongst otherwise healthy, heterosexual people.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 19, 2019 3:15 am

That’s only because they loosened the diagnostic criteria there to label normally occurring diseases as AIDS without doing a test for HIV. Why? Because they got a lot of money to do so.

Reply to  icisil
July 19, 2019 12:04 pm

Read “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” by Michael Fumento.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 20, 2019 4:11 am

… otherwise healthy …

Maybe not by developed world standards. link For instance there seems to be a connection between TB and AIDS. Also, if you’ve already got an STD, it’s way easier to get AIDS. link

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 21, 2019 3:17 pm

“HIV is a major problem in Africa, amongst otherwise healthy, heterosexual people.”

And then there’s the problem with African albino people. Thei’re pulverised for magig wands.

Steve B
Reply to  icisil
July 19, 2019 1:21 am

When people first got Ebola they dies within 4 to 5 days and no carriers. It was transmitted by bodily fluids so generally the carers got it last. It couldn’t spread because of the speed of death. Now there are carriers and it takes longer to die. Now that is scary.

Reply to  Steve B
July 19, 2019 3:18 am

Germs don’t work like that.

Reply to  icisil
July 19, 2019 3:22 am

Blimey! I have a bucket full of sand that could contain you head.
I don’t think I have read any thing so stupid (other than flat earthers and ice walls and firmaments and …).

It is interesting that the WHO (an offshoot of that Marxist organisation the UN that seems to be universally despised here and that people feel should be destroyed) is being mainly supported.

From WHO
“When diplomats met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the things they discussed was setting up a global health organization.
WHO’s Constitution came into force on 7 April 1948 – a date we now celebrate every year as World Health Day”

Sweet Old Bob
July 18, 2019 11:02 am

The sky IS falling ! /s

Charles Higley
July 18, 2019 11:16 am

I love the part about not wanting to penalize those with the disease or those in that community. When your leg is broken, you cannot go out and play football. You are penalized by reality. A quarantine is what would happen naturally when other communities figure out that your community is diseased. It is not a punishment or stigmatization, it’s reality, nature has stigmatized you.

The same is true for the intolerance and anti-Infidel approach of general Islam. When the heart of a religion says that you, as a non-Muslim should be dead, subjugated, or enslaved, it is perfectly natural to steer away from such people. In this case, the religion has created a natural response from other people. It’s nothing more than a natural quarantine.

Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2019 11:18 am

The National Geographic channel on cable TV recently had a semi-documentary, Hot Zone, loosely based on the book of the same name. If you haven’t seen the TV version, or read the book, I’d highly recommend it. If you get cable TV, it may still be available to watch ‘On Demand.’

The bottom line is that a few decades ago, a strain of simian Ebola got into the country with a shipment of laboratory monkeys from the Philippines. It was not fatal to the humans that caught it. But, to this day, no one knows how the strain got into monkeys from the Philippines, and whether or not there might be similarly infected monkeys in the wild. Until the incident, it was thought that Ebola was only present in Africa. The most important thing was how easily humans caught it from the infected monkeys and other humans.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 19, 2019 4:29 am

those monkeys also got into america
read about the RESTON incident. luckily no one died
Marburg and Ebola are similar and both have high death rates
Marburg outbreaks occur too but dont get so much press Germanys had issues in the past with that.

Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2019 11:22 am

The Wikipedia article on Ebola vaccine is not as optimistic as Eric is:

July 18, 2019 11:51 am

The Ebola scare been going on for decades….

Reply to  beng135
July 18, 2019 12:04 pm

Follow the money…

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  beng135
July 18, 2019 3:59 pm

That doesn’t mean it’s not real! Ebola is fairly difficult to transmit under most circumstances, since the virus is fragile outside of He body, so it stayed contained in the area of the original outbreak. (Nobody knows exactly what the host animal vector is, the best bet is bats). Most patients get Ebola from direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected patient. The two main fears are that it could mutate so that it can survive longer in the air, like the flu, or that it gets loose in a major city where the virus has more opportunities to spread. Heaven help us if it gets loose in, say, the LA homeless population!

Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
July 19, 2019 4:34 am

look up Hendra and Nipah and Lyssa virus also blamed on bats
in africa colonies of bats were found on hospital roofs near aircons etc
when asked why they never reported Hendra the docs said they didnt have funds/abilities to test and they assume the deaths to be from one of the many other known diseases,

Hendra uses horses as an intermediary to humans- found antibodies in dogs but they wouldnt infect humans, and survived only to be killed by zealous medicos.
Nipah was nastier and hit pigs dogs cats and humans
Lyssa is rabies like.

Gunga Din
July 18, 2019 12:20 pm

I thought Dr. WHO was a fantasy/scifi show? (which I liked, by the way). / sarc
By all means do what is needed to stop the spread of Ebola. /sarc was off
Maybe the Green New Deal’s idea of eliminating air travel and, therefore, commerce will do the job? /sarc back on

July 18, 2019 12:30 pm

Some historians think the plague that infected Western China, and “deciminated” the Middle East and the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, permanently weakening the Roman Empire, was an ebola like illness.

But, thanks to the fruits of the capitalist system, I am not worried about it.

Flight Level
July 18, 2019 12:41 pm

It’s also time to consider aircraft hygiene. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, that big shiny flyer is the most infectious place a normal person can visit.

Time of dusting them with battery powered vacs is over, as is the removal of visible only stains with moist sanitizing mops. Aircraft hygiene is at an all time low in a regulatory gray zone where anything goes.

Inner secret, crews privately carry bactericidal cleaning tissues & single use gloves, lavatories are fearsome places and no one will ever use the on-bord blankets/pillows.

In the cabin, air is mostly recirculated so the old trick to blow clean air by the overhead nozzle won’t help that much.

Just saying… Global climate warm-o-changing doesn’t spread that much dirty stuff as savings on aircraft hygiene does.

July 18, 2019 1:54 pm

So, was WHO correct to classify Glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”, based on a correlation of characteristics? And the lawyers based on a confirmed case of a guy denying best practices and ingesting the chemical?

Robert of Texas
July 18, 2019 3:30 pm

Ebola (and several related viruses) just plain scare me… They are RNA based, which means they have a higher mutation rate and therefore evolve more quickly. Back when the virus never got behind some tribal borders there just was not enough hosts to really launch the disease, but now it can launch into high density populations very quickly. It kills quickly and efficiently, so at least during an initial worldwide outbreak it would kill a lot of people before likely becoming less dangerous. (Viruses generally evolve to kill less given time as it makes their own success higher)

Once it infects enough people it’s mutation rate is very high, so the chance of it evolving into a more dangerous form (initially) is also high. If it ever goes airborne…its going to do a lot of damage. Going airborne will likely take several mutations – one to better encapsulate the RNA while airborne and at least one and maybe more to infect either nasal or lung tissue. (So, more like the FLU viruses)

The fact we really do not understand the natural sources for the virus make it likely people will keep getting infected.

People that work around Ebola become overconfident in their understanding (risk) and processes. It’s just a matter of time some over-confident doctor or nurse drags the infection into a western city (assuming some migrant using air travel doesn’t do it first)

Rob JM
July 19, 2019 7:15 am

Ebola is not that dangerous to western societies in its current form. There are no asymptomatic infections and people are not infections until they show symptoms. Simple barrier nursing is effective. SARS was much more scary, as is the Flu. AIDS shows how a virus that can be spread while you are asymptomatic is much more dangerous than one like Ebola.

Johann Wundersamer
July 21, 2019 4:59 pm

Das war keine grosse Erkenntniss. Das mit den Congo drug dealers. Ich habe bloss “Mode gemacht”.

What’s that in English – “Mode gemacht” – aufräumen.

To clean up.


That was no great knowledge. The Congo drug dealers. I just “made fashion”.

What’s that in English – “Mode gemacht” – aufräumen.

To clean up.

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