Ebola Spreads To City Of Goma, Population Over A Million

Ebola outbreak in the Congo spreads to a new city where one MILLION people live By VANESSA CHALMERS

  • Health ministers confirmed a pastor was infected after visiting Butembo
  • They raced to find and vaccinate other travellers on his bus
  • It has been feared since the outbreak began that Ebola would reach Goma
  • Authorities have urged calm amid more armed attacks on treatment centres
  • Two health workers have been murdered after months of threats 

Ebola has spread to the Congolese city of Goma, which has a population of more than a million people, as the virus continues to devastate the region.   The victim is a pastor who had arrived in the city by bus after visiting Butembo, a town around 200miles (320km) north in the centre of the outbreak. He had been preaching at a church where he would have touched worshippers ‘including the sick’, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday.  Authorities have urged people to remain calm after the government said the chances of the virus spreading were ‘low’. But tensions are high and two health workers were murdered in their homes over the weekend. Experts have said the escalation was ‘unexpected’ and should serve as a reminder to the World Health Organization to declare a global emergency.  In this, the second worst outbreak in history, 1,665 people have died from Ebola since August last year. The Congolese city Goma is around 180 miles (300km) south of Butembo, with a population of more than one million people. Cases continue to soar in Beni, Butembo, Katwa, Mabalako and Mandima, where the  outbreak is centered The preacher’s symptoms first started on Tuesday after he left Butembo by bus on the Friday and arrived in Goma on Sunday, the DRC ministry said.  The other passengers, 18 in all, and the driver will be vaccinated against Ebola today, said the ministry. It is not clear where the patient is being held.  ‘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. Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner, an expert on Global Health Law at Keele University said: ‘The identification of a case in Goma is a deeply disappointing, if not totally unexpected development in the Ebola response in the DRC. ‘As a large city and transport and trade hub the virus taking hold in Goma could have devastating consequences for the response to Ebola in the DRC.’  Health experts have long feared that Ebola could make its way to Goma, which is the capital of the North Kivu province in eastern Congo. It borders neighbouring Rwanda, which has been preparing for possible cases since the outbreak began nearly a year ago.  The two towns are separated by poor roads under the threat of armed groups, which have hampered response teams across the Congo.  The UN is convening a ‘high-level event’ in Geneva today to discuss response and preparedness for the Ebola outbreak.

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