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Ebola case confirmed in eastern DR Congo city

China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-16 09:41

A health worker measures the temperature of a man entering an Ebola treatment center in Beni, the DR Congo, on April 1. BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

KINSHASA, The Democratic Republic of the Congo - The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, the biggest city to have been affected by the disease since its outbreak in eastern DR Congo in August, the country's Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The patient is a pastor who had been preaching in church and would have touched the hands of worshippers "including the sick", the ministry said in a statement.

His symptoms first appeared on July 9 in Butembo, one of the main towns touched by Ebola where he had been preaching.

He left by bus on Friday to Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, arriving early Sunday where "the results of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive for Ebola", the ministry said.

"Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low," the ministry said.

The other 18 passengers and the driver will begin getting vaccinations on Monday, it added.

Health workers in Goma were vaccinated as early as December when the outbreak first hit Butembo some 300 km further north. The two towns are separated by poor roads under the threat of armed groups.

The World Health Organization had initially voiced hope it would be able to contain the highly contagious hemorrhagic fever, thanks in part to the new vaccine.

The latest Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people and 694 have been cured, according to a Health Ministry bulletin on Saturday.

But efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centers, in which some staff have been killed, and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.

The disease spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.

The current outbreak, which started last August in North Kivu Province, has infected at least 2,300 people, according to the WHO.


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