Newsday, DRC: Ebola outbreak reaches Goma

The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people health ministry said

The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people health ministry said

A first case of Ebola has been confirmed in the DR Congo border town of Goma, where a cleric tested positive after he arrived in the city of one million by bus.

"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.

This is the first case in the lakeside city of 1 million people, which is more than 350 km (220 miles) south of where the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record was first detected a year ago.

Tedros' comments came as WHO said health workers had started vaccinating people who had come in contact with the individual in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, after the DRC's Health Ministry confirmed on Sunday he had contracted Ebola.

The bus driver and the 18 other passengers will be vaccinated on Monday.

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The case emerged on the same day that the major partners fighting the outbreak - including the DRC government, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and UK and USA governments - met in Geneva to discuss a "reset" to the response and urge more donors to come forward and help bring the epidemic under control.

The pastor was swiftly taken back to Butembo, which is better prepared for handling Ebola cases than Goma, the authorities said.

"It is important that people keep calm", the country's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a statement Sunday night.

A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear, walks before entering the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit (CUBE) at the ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) Ebola treatment centre in Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 30, 2019.

Insecurity in the restive region, including a long-standing presence of various rebel groups in Ituri and North Kivu, has also made it hard for health workers to access those who might have come into contact with Ebola. WHO's Dr. Michael Ryan, who is directing the agency's Ebola response, said the meeting would be held this week. Almost 2,500 people have been infected and more than 1,600 killed in the second biggest outbreak on record.

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That raised fears Ebola could accelerate into one of Africa's most densely populated areas and over the Rwanda border.

"Every attack gives Ebola an opportunity to spread".

In May experts advising the World Health Organization recommended that other vaccines be introduced to help ensure that vaccine supplies last and specifically mentioned a new experimental vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.

Last month, the World Health Organization said the outbreak did not qualify as an worldwide threat, even after an infected family travelled to neighbouring Uganda. Some who were considered high-risk contacts and urged not to travel have left the area, including a woman who made her way to within 70 kilometres (about 40 miles) of Congo's border with South Sudan. Some falsely believe that the vaccine is what is making people sick, in part because people can still develop the disease after getting the shot if they already had been infected.

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.

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