from Africa in Transition and Africa Program

WHO Retains Ebola’s Public Health Emergency Designation in Congo

A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 6, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland.
A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 6, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. Denis Balibouse/Reuters

February 14, 2020

A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 6, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland.
A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 6, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. Denis Balibouse/Reuters
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

The number of cases of Ebola in the eastern Congo continues to fall, and there had been speculation that the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee would remove the designation of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) from the outbreak. However, at its February 12 meeting, the Committee voted unanimously to keep the designation. The original designation was made on July 17, 2019. 

In its report, the committee put the Ebola risk as high at the national and regional levels, but low at the global level. The committee noted that sustained progress is dependent on improvement in the security situation, and security incidents had actually increased in recent months. The poor security situation and deep distrust of outsiders by locals has made this Ebola outbreak particularly difficult to tackle. The meeting also noted that outbreaks of other infectious diseases, notably measles and cholera, continue in the Democratic Republic of Congo and merit international attention and support.

More on:

Democratic Republic of Congo

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Organizations

Sub-Saharan Africa

From the beginning of the current outbreak to February 10, the WHO states 3,308 confirmed and probable Ebola cases in eastern Congo, and that 2,253 people had died, about two-thirds. The WHO estimates the death rate from the coronavirus is about 2 percent, but cautions that it is too early to be definitive. Nevertheless, it is clear that Ebola is vastly more deadly, if still largely confined to eastern Congo. 

More on:

Democratic Republic of Congo

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Organizations

Sub-Saharan Africa

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