GENEVA — China is closely watching the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and stands ready to offer health professionals and experts if asked, a leading Chinese health official said on May 20.
Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, is leading the Chinese delegation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) that is to kick off in Geneva Monday. At a press conference on May 20, he said “We are very much concerned about the development of the outbreak of Ebola in the DRC.”
The DRC’s latest confirmation on May 19 increased the number of people affected by Ebola in the country from 17 to 21.
“As you all know in 2014 when the Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa, the Chinese government and the people made a quick response and ... we sent experts and public health professional helping the West African countries to deal with the Ebola outbreak,” said Ma.
He said that in the same spirit China is watching the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC and “where necessary on request” the government and people will send experts or professionals to offer their help.
The WHO’s Emergency Committee of 11 experts said in a statement on May 18 that the rapid and comprehensive response had eased the risk from the DRC Ebola outbreak.
“Interventions under way provide strong reason to believe that the outbreak can be brought under control,” the committee said in a statement on May 18.
The WHO Emergency Committee said in its statement, “Global solidarity among the scientific community is critical and international data should be shared freely and regularly.”
Ma said that China is “watching very closely the academic exchanges in the world on the Ebola outbreak and we are ready to share our experience during the 2014 outbreak.” He said that China will take part in discussions that take place at the WHA on the DRC outbreak.
Ebola is a highly infectious disease that spreads through contact with even a small amount of bodily fluid of an infected person. Its early flu-like symptoms are not always easy to detect.
Dr. Peter Salama, who leads the Health Emergencies Program at WHO, told journalists on May 18 that the Ebola West Africa outbreak two years ago cost the international community between $3 billion and $4 billion.
The Ebola epidemic hit Africa between late 2013 and 2016, causing more than 11,000 deaths in nearly 30,000 cases, according to UN statistics.