Case of Ebola confirmed in Congo city of Goma

Tuesday, 16 Jul, 2019

Interested in Ebola? Add Ebola as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Ebola news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Health workers prepare to bury a coffin containing a victim of the Ebola virus on May 16, 2019 in Butembo, a city at the center of the outbreak.

Goma shares border with Rwanda, with an estimated 100,000 people crossing the border from either country daily for various businesses, according to migration officials. It receives a large number of travelers from across the country and the greater region. Dr Mike Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme gives his first assessment of the situation in Goma.

At a meeting convened in Geneva by World Health Organization yesterday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of Ebola to Goma was a potential "game-changer". As Ebola response leadership meets today in Geneva to continue this reevaluation, we encourage those involved to continue to make real community engagement and continued demilitarization of the response top priorities.

The ministry said the workers had been receiving death threats for months.

The man was tested "and the results of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive for Ebola", the ministry said in a statement. Last Tuesday the preacher fell ill and was seen at home by a nurse before he began his bus trip to Goma. "However, at each checkpoint, he wrote down different family names and forenames on the passenger list, which probably indicates a will to hide his identity and state of health", the ministry said.

When he arrived in Goma on Sunday morning, he went to a clinic because he didn't feel well and started to become feverish, the ministry said. No other patients were in the health center at the time, according to the health ministry. Yet, despite these exhaustive preventative and treatment efforts, fighting Ebola has proved hard because of community mistrust, limited health care resources, difficult-to-access locations, and violent attacks on heath care workers. Since November, more than 3,000 health workers in Goma have been vaccinated for Ebola and trained in the detection and management of Ebola patients. He was taken back to a treatment facility in Butembo on Monday.

Speaking at a United Nations meeting in Geneva on the outbreak, Congo's minister of health, Dr. Oly Ilunga, called the spread of Ebola to Goma "a warning".

Goma, which has a population of around one million, is the capital of North Kivu province, the epicentre of an outbreak that has claimed more than 1,600 lives - the second highest toll in Ebola's history.

The minister on Monday visited the border district to assess the effectiveness of measures which were put in place by the government to avoid possible spread of the disease in the country such as screening of travellers entering Rwanda.

The current outbreak has a case fatality rate of about 67%.

As the first anniversary of the DRC epidemic draws near, the World Health Organization reports almost 2,500 people have been infected with the virus and 1,665 people have died.

Goma, a lakeside city more than 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected, got its first case on Sunday.

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.

"There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers, or spread to new locations - as we've heard today in Goma", said Josie Golding, a specialist on epidemics at the Wellcome Trust global health charity.