Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Case confirmed in Goma

Case confirmed in Goma

According to the latest health ministry figures, issued on Saturday, 1,655 people have died from the notorious haemorrhagic virus since August 1 past year, when the disease broke out in North Kivu and spread to neighbouring Ituri.

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. But Congo's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga, insisted the situation was "not a humanitarian crisis". "Every attack makes it more hard to trace contacts, vaccinate and perform safe burials".

Local hostility to health workers trying to trace and isolate people in contact with Ebola patients is another hurdle.

Insisting that he was confident sufficient preventative measures had been put in place, Mr. Tedros announced that he had made a decision to reconvene an Emergency Committee "as soon as possible to assess the threat of this development and advise me accordingly".

For the World Health Organisation, the city is a gateway to the region and the world and describes this case as a "potential game-changer". Neighboring Rwanda also has taken measures to stop the disease from spreading across its border.

A noxious mix of armed militias and a deep-rooted distrust of health officials by communities have hindered efforts to halt the virus.

"Due to the speed with which the patient was identified and isolated, as well as identification of all bus passengers from Butembo, the risk of Ebola spreading to the rest of Goma remains low", the ministry said.

More than 1,600 people have died since the Ebola outbreak began in eastern DR Congo a year ago - the second biggest outbreak ever. "They haven't", he said, adding that money was needed to double the number of World Health Organization staff helping Congo's neighbors, such as Burundi and South Sudan, prepare for a potential outbreak.

People infected with Ebola do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days. Rory Stewart, said during the United Nations meeting, "We are on the edge with this crisis". He also called for other G7 countries to increase their support, specifically asking Francophone countries to step in.

Unlike the 2014-2016 epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people, health authorities now have access to an experimental yet highly effective vaccine. "We need the global community to step up and stop this outbreak from escalating". The vaccine initially was provided only to those at the highest risk of contracting the disease, though that has been widened to include others.

Outside DRC, moreover, more than 10,000 people have been vaccinated in Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, he continued, while noting that after several visits to DRC, he had come to realize that it had many more problems to contend with than Ebola.

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