FILE PHOTO: A man washes his hands after Ebola screening upon entering the General Hospital in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – A second case of Ebola was detected on Tuesday in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, a local health official said, increasing concern the virus could establish a foothold in the densely populated area close to the Rwandan border.
Goma’s first Ebola case was detected in mid-July, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the spread of the disease could accelerate. The epidemic has killed more than 1,700 people since it was declared almost a year ago, becoming the second-worst outbreak on record.
The latest person with the disease started developing symptoms on July 22, after arriving from a mining area outside the city, the health official quoted the head of Congo’s Ebola response team, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, as saying in an official statement.
Health officials believe the patient, a man, is not connected to the first case in Goma.
“The response teams continue to work to decontaminate the home of the case and the high-risk contacts of the case have been identified and will be vaccinated from tomorrow,” Muyembe said.
He said, unlike the first case, the latest patient will be able to receive appropriate treatment in Goma as a facility has been opened in the city, which is more than 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected.
Goma has been preparing for Ebola to arrive in the city for a year, setting up hand-washing stations and making sure moto-taxi drivers do not share helmets.
Reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry