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Expand chart
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

Go deeper

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.

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Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain talks turkey

Butterball estimates that it sells one out of every three Thanksgiving turkeys, but knows that this year's celebrations will be different than years past.

Axios Re:Cap talks with the turkey giant's CEO Jay Jandrain about what people are buying, what they're asking the "Turkey Talkline" and what the pandemic has meant for his business.

Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.