Ebola: Two health workers killed in DR Congo

Ebola: Two health workers killed in DR Congo

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have appealed for calm after an evangelical preacher fell ill with Ebola in the eastern city of Goma, the first recorded case of the disease in the key urban hub in a almost year-old epidemic.

"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", it said.

The latest epidemic is the second-deadliest on record globally, after the outbreak that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, killing more than 11,300 people.

The patient who brought Ebola to Goma 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.

WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan said health workers had identified 60 contacts, including 18 who were on the bus with the individual, and half of them have been vaccinated.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the development was so worrying that he was reconvening the agency's emergency committee as soon as possible "to assess the threat of this development".

Report via a toll-free (114) nationwide phone alert system, to community health workers, nearby health facility and or police station any suspected case with Ebola-like symptoms. "But, if this is multiple cases in Goma, that is a turning point".

Additionally, 160 239 people have been vaccinated, it said.

At the weekend, however, two Ebola awareness campaigners were murdered in their homes in the North Kivu province, where locals view foreign health care providers with deep suspicion. When he arrived in Goma on Sunday he went to a clinic where he tested positive for Ebola and he was taken back to a clinic in Butembo on Monday.

Since Aug. 8, more than 161,400 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in the outbreak zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, using an experimental vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck.

Two fatal cases were reported in Uganda last month, marking the first confirmed cross-border cases of the virus in the current epidemic and prompting the WHO's emergency committee to weigh for a third time whether to declare the outbreak an worldwide health emergency.

All the while, the virus continues to spread - in June, it made the long-feared jump across the DRC border to neighboring Uganda, although at this stage those isolated cases appear to be contained. 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.

Last month, the World Health Organization said the outbreak did not qualify as an global threat, even after an infected family travelled to neighbouring Uganda. However, no one they came into contact with fell ill during the 21-day incubation period after the exposure.

This outbreak, occurring close to Congo's borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, has been like no other.

A person infected with Ebola can not spread the disease until they develop symptoms.

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