United Kingdom calls for global effort to tackle DRC Ebola outbreak

Henrietta Brewer
August 2, 2019

More help is needed to beat Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo, humanitarian and medical groups said on Thursday, as they marked a year since the epidemic was declared.

Rwanda reopened its frontier with DR Congo on Thursday after closing it for eight hours following a new case of Ebola in the Congolese border city of Goma, Kinshasa said.

Goma is a major transport hub that shares the border with the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which has a population of more than 85,000. "The girl had already been showing signs of the disease", an Ebola response official told AFP.

On Wednesday, a man died of the highly-contagious virus in Goma, and it is his 1-year-old daughter who is now the third confirmed case in the city of about 2 million.

The presidency's office said in a statement that it regretted a "unilateral decision" by the Rwandan side that restricted the movement of its citizens at the border.

World Health Organization has recommended against travel restrictions amid the outbreak but says the risk of regional spread is "very high".

"This latest case in such a dense population center underscores the very real risk of further disease transmission, perhaps beyond the country's borders, and the very urgent need for a strengthened global response and increased donor investment", said the response leaders, in their joint statement.

This has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, with more than 1,700 people killed despite the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine.

Rwanda had closed its Rubavu border after a third case of Ebola was reported in the border town of Goma, DR Congo.

Rwandan state minister for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Olivier Nduhungirehe, told Reuters by phone that the border had been shut but declined to give further details.

Before Goma, the epidemic had been largely limited to rural areas in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. "This is why we have been doing intensive preparedness work in Goma so that any new case is identified and responded to immediately", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, said on Twitter.

World Health Organization coordinator Boubacar Diallo said the fourth case "is the wife of the man who died yesterday morning". He had spent five days being treated at home and then went to a health facility, where Ebola was suspected.

The border had been closed to "avoid unnecessary crossings" to Goma, said Gilbert Habayarimana, the mayor of Rubavu district in western Rwanda, which borders Goma.

"Response teams are continuing to ensure that the city of Goma is out of danger", it promised.

The virus can also be reportedly transmitted among humans through contact with infected bodily fluids.

There is no licensed treatment for Ebola and many people in the region don't believe that Ebola is real, health workers have said.

This outbreak is second only to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead.

Other reports by iNewsToday