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DR Congo confirms first Ebola case in the eastern city of Goma

DR Congo confirms first Ebola case in the eastern city of Goma

With the arrival of the case in Goma and Butembo, Ebola virus is now present in two cities of more than a million people, DR Congo’s Health Ministry confirmed on Sunday.

The city of Goma on the east of DR Congo could be a major escalation for the outbreak raging in the country, the medical experts confirmed, Euronews reported. But the most dangerous is a fact that Goma lies directly on the border with Rwanda, where tens of thousands cross on foot daily.

Congolese health officials will move the patient back to Butembo for treatment. Ebola virus has already killed more than 1600 people in eastern Congo as it has spread in areas difficult for health teams to access.

According to the UN data, the current Ebola outbreak is the second worst ever, after an epidemic between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa.

Poor infrastructure or insecurity makes the extent of the outbreak hard to fully measure, the experts said.

The area where Ebola outbreak is taking place is also anchor to one of DRC’s most protracted and violent conflicts — a patchwork of ethnic militias, rebels, and pro-government forces.

Fighting has at times targeted the Ebola response, hampering it and leading to spurts of new cases, creating a vicious circle, which jeopardizes thousands of local people.

Ebola virus is travelling via bus

The ministry of health confirmed on Twitter that the patient, a 46-year-old pastor, entered Goma by bus from Butembo, where he had preached at seven churches, regularly laying his hands on the heads of those in attendance, including the sick.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak has spread through Congolese provinces on North for almost one year. A small number of cases were confirmed but quickly contained in neighbouring Uganda in June after a Congolese family sought treatment there.

“Because of the speed with which the patient was identified and isolated, and the identification of all the other bus passengers coming from Butembo, the risk of it spreading in the rest of the city of Goma is small,” the Health ministry said in a statement.