Mar 15, 2019

World Health Organization gives mixed message on Ebola fight

Data: DRC Ministry of Health; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Harry Stevens/Axios

A week after the nonprofit group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a warning that the fight against the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was on the verge of failing, the head of the World Health Organization provided a more upbeat message on Thursday.

Why it matters: This is the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record, and the WHO is taking the lead role in combatting it. How this organization views the response effort is critical to determining the course of this outbreak.

Details: WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, who just returned from a trip to the DRC alongside CDC director Robert Redfield, touted the fact that despite the outbreak continuing to flare within the Congo, it has not spread to any other countries.

  • He also said the number of new cases per week is down since January.

"Despite the incredibly difficult situation, the outbreak has been contained in 11 out of the 28 communities that have had cases," Tedros said. "You cannot say it's failing when the outbreak is contracting."

Tedros warned that the outbreak could grow worse if the security situation deteriorates.

Context: Medical teams struggling to extinguish this outbreak have been battling violent attacks from rebel groups and communities with a high level of distrust against them, the latest occurring Thursday.

Last week, MSF called for a new approach to gain the trust of the local population. One of MSF's biggest concerns is that a high proportion of new deaths have been community cases, unknown to authorities beforehand. Such cases can help spread the virus further.

Johns Hopkins' public health expert Jennifer Nuzzo says she continues to have concerns about the reliability of the case statistics, due to the interruptions from security incidents. “I just really worry that we’re missing cases,” she tells Axios.

Go deeper: Axios' complete Ebola outbreak coverage

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Older candidates take the lead on social media

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden — all close to 80 — are pushing the boundaries on social media, while their younger Democratic presidential rivals are comparatively staying out of the fray.

The big picture: President Trump's unexpected rise to political power has shown Democrats and world leaders the power of harnessing popular internet culture to get elected.

South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures as coronavirus cases jump

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures, with several towns in the north effectively placed in lockdown, as it confirmed two deaths and infections rose to 79.

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Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy