Pastor confirmed with Ebola as disease spreads in DR Congo

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KINSHASA, July 15, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – 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 last August, the 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 last Tuesday 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 300km (185 miles) further north.

The two towns are separated by poor roads under the threat of armed groups.

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.

And 160,239 people have been vaccinated, it added.

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

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

Insecurity in the restive region, including a long-standing presence of
various rebel groups in Ituri and North Kivu, has also made it difficult for
health workers to access those who might have come into contact with Ebola.

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 is the tenth in DRC in 40 years, putting all of East
Africa on alert.

It is already the second deadliest on record globally, after the epidemic
that struck West Africa in 2014-2016 and killed more than 11,300 people.

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