The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the “significant risk” that the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo spreads to neighbouring countries, as the number of confirmed cases rises again placing the World Bank issued pandemic catastrophe bonds and swaps into focus again.
As we explained last month, the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo could become a qualifying or eligible event under the terms of the coverage provided by the Class B tranches of pandemic swaps and catastrophe bonds that were issued through the PEF transaction by the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) last year.
The response by the international community to stem the spread of the Congo Ebola outbreak has been significant, with the World Bank itself activating its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) cash window, to make its first cash disbursement, providing a $12 million grant to assist in the response to the recent Ebola virus outbreak.
But it is still early days and the number of confirmed Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to rise and now the WHO has warned of the potential for regional spread of the disease outbreak into other countries as well.
When we last updated on the outbreak on May 23rd, there were 28 confirmed cases of the Ebola virus from within three health zones in Equateur Province, Congo.
As of June 3rd, that figure has risen to 37 confirmed cases, as the disease outbreak continues to spread.
The WHO explained in its latest update, “From 4 April through 3 June 2018, a total of 56 EVD cases, including 25 deaths (overall case fatality ratio = 45%), have been reported from three health zones in Equateur Province. The total includes 37 confirmed, 13 probable and six suspected cases from the three health zones: Bikoro (n=26; 10 confirmed, 11 probable and five suspected cases), Iboko (n=25; 23 confirmed and two probable cases) and Wangata (n=5; four confirmed and one suspected cases).”
Additionally, the number of contacts being followed up has risen as well, from 600 as of May 21st, to now 880 as of June 3rd.
In addition, an update yesterday from the WHO warns of the potential for the Ebola virus outbreak to spread into neighbouring countries, which would heighten the risk to the pandemic catastrophe bonds and swaps.
“There is a significant risk of spread of the ongoing EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to neighbouring countries because of the geographic proximity, high volume of movement of people and goods across borders and along the Congo River, insufficient national capacities to prevent, detect and respond to EVD cases, and other factors which may enable transmission,” the WHO warned.
An emergency committee of the WHO concluded, “Neighbouring countries should urgently strengthen preparedness and surveillance in order to mitigate the risk of international spread.”
Of course there is no guarantee the Ebola outbreak will spread into other countries, but the WHO is taking steps to ensure they are ready just in case.
The mobilisation of response efforts and capital has been significant for this Ebola outbreak, as the international community strives to avoid a repeat of the last major outbreak in Africa.
However, as the number of confirmed cases rises, the chance of the outbreak spreading further and of contacts taking the Ebola virus into neighbouring countries also increases, which ultimately does heighten the risk for the potentially exposed pandemic catastrophe bonds and swaps that support the financing of the insurance window of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF).
We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available on the developing Ebola outbreak.
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