July 16: Goma Ebola victim dies
Authorities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest city, Goma, on Tuesday said the first patient in the city has died.
The patient was a priest who became infected during a visit to the town of Butembo, one of the epicentres of the outbreak, before taking a bus to Goma, according to Congo’s health ministry.
He was being driven from Goma to a clinic in Butembo on Monday to receive treatment when he died, North Kivu province’s Governor Carly Nzanzu told an Ebola response meeting.
The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) described the case as a “potential game-changer” and said it would reconvene a key panel to see whether the outbreak required a heightened global response.
July 14: Ebola case confirmed in Goma
Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed on Sunday that the Ebola virus had spread to the Eastern city of Goma.
This is the first case in the lakeside city of 1 million people, which is more than 350 km (220 miles) south of where the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record was first detected a year ago.
The haemorrhagic fever has gradually spread south, infecting nearly 2,500 people and killing more than 1,600, and now officials fear the virus could spread quicker in a densely populated area close to the Rwandan border.
Rwanda, meanwhile, said it would step up border monitoring and urged its citizens to avoid “unnecessary” travel to the eastern DRC.
How Ebola spread to Goma
The patient was a priest who became infected during a visit to the town of Butembo, 200 km (124 miles) north of Goma, where he interacted with Ebola patients, Congo’s health ministry said in a statement.
He developed symptoms last week before taking a bus to Goma on Friday. When he arrived in Goma on Sunday he went to a clinic where he tested positive for Ebola.
“Due to the speed with which the patient has been identified and isolated, as well as the identification of all bus passengers from Butembo, the risk of spreading to the rest of the city of Goma remains low,” the ministry said.
Goma has been preparing for the arrival of Ebola for a year, setting up hand-washing stations and making sure mototaxi drivers do not share helmets.
But in more rural areas, the virus has been hard to contain. Local mistrust of health officials and militia violence have hobbled containment efforts and caused the number of new cases to spike.
Ebola causes diarrhoea, vomiting and hemorrhagic fever and can be spread through bodily fluids. An epidemic between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa.