The United States has no plans to reorganize personnel to fight the growing Ebola eruption on the ground in Congo…
The United States has no plans to reorganize personnel to fight the growing Ebola eruption on the ground in Congo due to worsening security barriers, officials said on Wednesday.
The outbreak of northeastern Congo takes place in an active war zone and has now become the country’s largest for more than four decades. Attacks on the government’s outposts and civilians of dozens of armed militants have complicated the work of Ebola response teams, which often have to cancel important jobs tracing cases and isolate people infected with the deadly virus . Violence has escalated in recent weeks, including attacks by armed groups this weekend near the Beni Center, the urban epicenter in northern Kivu province.
No US citizens work in the outbreak, but staff from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US International Development Agency are located in Kinshasa, the capital, about 1000 miles away. Additional staff work in neighboring countries. Some experienced Ebola experts from CDC were taken back from Beni at the end of August following an attack by a armed group against a Congolese military site along a road near where the team traveled, according to a leading Ambassador to Congo, USA. No US government officials or other Ebola respondents targeted or were in the vicinity of that attack.
“The security of our staff is our top priority,” said an administrative official during a briefing for reporters Wednesday. He spoke on terms of anonymity because of rules established by the White House. Washington continuously monitors the security situation, but right now, “it’s simply too dangerous,” he said.
Abuse of these security issues is the attacks of 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, which killed a US ambassador and three other Americans, according to public health experts familiar with discussions about US staff deployments who spoke in background information with journalists.
Administration officials refused to say whether sending CDC experts under the protection of US military personnel is under consideration. “I will not control or exclude anything,” he said. However, he noted that in 2014-2016 the West Africa Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people gave the US military only logistical support.
After the CDC director Robert Redfield took up the opportunity last week that the outbreak has worsened so dramatically that it may not be under control, US officials tried to worsen the scenario. They undoubtedly stressed that the administration’s goal is to stop the outbreak.
“The Ebola response is a priority for the US government,” said Tim Ziemer, a senior official at USAID, at another briefing hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Ziemer had led global health security at the National Security Council, but left this position suddenly in May after the global health security law he supervised resolved during a reorganization by National Security Advisor John Bolton.
One of the biggest problems with controlling a possible outbreak, especially this, is that respondents can not identify and track all contacts with Ebola patients. Without that ability, the disease continues to spread. Particularly Concerned in this outbreak is that estimated 60 to 80 percent of new confirmed cases have no known links to previous cases, making it virtually impossible for responders to track infections and stop transmission.
“It shows that your systems are not working, you fail to get your arms around this outbreak,” said J. Stephen Morrison, a vice president of CSIS.
At the CSIS briefing, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Response Officer, speaking from Geneva, said the outbreak was expected to last for another six months, at best. Peter Salama also said that informal health clinics, who are unregulated and often operated by traditional doctors, may have spread the virus in Beni because mothers and children sought help for cases of Ebola malignant as malaria, which has similar early symptoms.  Learn more