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Ebola Case Confirmed in DRC City Bordering Rwanda

JUL 16, 2019 | MICHAELA FLEMING
The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has announced 1 confirmed case of Ebola in the Congelese city of Goma.

The Congolese city is home to more than 2 million people and rests against the border of Rwanda, a nation that is potentially vulnerable to the spread of Ebola.

Health officials announced the first case in the eastern city on Sunday, July 14, 2019. According to a press release, the patient is a pastor who traveled from Butembo via bus on Sunday. The patient did not exhibit any symptoms of the blood-borne virus at any of the health check-points along the journey from Butembo to Goma. However, the morning after he arrived in the city, he presented ill to a clinic.

The Ministry of Health reports that the patient was placed in isolation and transferred to an Ebola treatment center within the city. At this time, health officials indicate that the risk of transmission is low due to the quick actions of health workers. Goma has been actively preparing and training to handle a case of Ebola since November.

Health officials also report that through communication with the transportation company that operates the bus, all of the other 18 passengers and the driver of the bus have been successfully contacted and will receive the experimental Ebola virus vaccine.

In response to the news, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued a tweet that confirmed the Goma case and said that the health workers in the city are prepared to deal with the situation.
 

As of July 13, 2019, there have been 2395 confirmed cases and 1571 confirmed deaths since the Ebola outbreak began on August 1, 2018. The outbreak has been mostly confined in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the DRC, but this is not the first travel-associated Ebola case. In June, 3 cases of Ebola were detected in Uganda among members of a family who had recently attended a funeral in the DRC.

On Monday, July 15, 2019, the WHO and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs hosted a High-Level Event on Ebola Virus Disease in DRC in Geneva, Switzerland.

During the event, Tedros spoke on the current status of Ebola in the DRC and what needs to be done in order to stop the outbreak, which has been ongoing for nearly 1 year.

In his speech, he highlighted the role that violence has played in derailing outbreak response activities and announced that 2 health workers who were participating in Ebola outbreak response activities in Beni were killed over the weekend.

“Every attack sets us back. Every attack makes it more difficult to trace contacts, vaccinate and perform safe burials. Every attack gives Ebola an opportunity to spread. Ebola gets a free ride in each and every attack,” Tedros said.

Tedros also reflected on the barriers complicating the outbreak, saying, “unless we address its root causes—the weak health system, the insecurity, and the political instability—there will be another outbreak.”

Although Tedros acknowledged the successes of the outbreak response, including vaccination, contact tracing, and traveler screening, he refers to the outbreak as “one of the most complex humanitarian emergencies any of us have ever faced.”

As such, he has announced the decision to reconvene the WHO Emergency Committee as soon as possible to re-evaluate the threat level of the outbreak. The committee has voted on 2 occasions not to declare this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Contagion® will provide more updates as they become available.

For the most recent case counts in the DRC Ebola outbreak, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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