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WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the DRC a global health emergency, a move that is likely to escalate international attention on a crisis that has flared for a…
Women are seen washing their hands at an Ebola screening station as they enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Rwanda. Source: JOHN WESSELS/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a global health emergency on Wednesday, a move that is likely to escalate international attention on a crisis that has flared for a year despite aggressive efforts to stamp it out.

The declaration, which critics have contended is long overdue, could increase the amount of funding and assistance other countries are willing to provide to the response effort.

But if the experience of the West African Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 is any indication, it could also lead to border closings, trade restrictions, cancellations of flights, and the suspension of visas to people from the DRC.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who declared the public health emergency — on the recommendation of a panel of outside experts, stressed that any type of travel or trade restriction would impede the effort to extinguish the outbreak and hurt the economies of the countries in the region.

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