Congo Migrant Works Security United States Airport

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July 14, 2019

A case of Ebola was confirmed in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Sunday, for the first time since the outbreak began nearly a year ago.

The country’s Ministry of Health said in a series of tweets that a sick pastor arrived in the city from Butembo by bus Sunday. The virus first struck Butembo, a city of more than a 100,000 people, last September.
The ministry said the bus driver and the 18 other passengers will be vaccinated on Monday.

 After feeling sick for several days the pastor boarded a bus to eastern Congo’s largest city. Only upon arrival at his destination did anyone suspect he had the highly deadly and infectious Ebola virus.

During his trip to Goma, the 46-year-old preacher managed to pass three different health checkpoints aimed at stopping those who are sick with Ebola and contagious.

 

Now health authorities along his route are trying to hunt down all those he may have been in contact with after the man became Goma’s first confirmed Ebola case on Sunday.

“During the checks, he did not seem to show signs of the disease. In addition, at each checkpoint he wrote different names and surnames on the lists of travelers, probably indicating his desire to hide his identity and state of health,” the ministry said.

 

It’s a crucial task to contain the spread of Ebola in Goma, home to more than 2 million people and the largest city to confirm a case of the disease since the epidemic here began nearly a year ago.

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“It’s the door of this region to the rest of the world,” said Dr. Harouna Djingarey, infectious disease program manager for the World Health Organization’s regional office in eastern Congo. “From here you can fly to everywhere in the world. If we don’t have the control over the contacts, some high-risk contacts may fly, take a plane and go somewhere.”

“God help us if Ebola is now in Goma,” said Baudouine Rudahigwa, 30, who immediately feared the case could prompt restrictions against her and fellow residents. “My children are now on alert that they can’t greet or play with others. They are washing their hands all the time.”

 

“While not welcome news, it is something we have long anticipated,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter. “We have been doing intensive work to prepare Goma so that any case is identified and responded to immediately.”
The ongoing outbreak in DRC, in which more than 1,600 people have died, is the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. Mistrust in the medical agencies and the government contributed to the spread of the outbreak, because people weren’t getting treatment, staying at home and dying. Their bodies were still highly contagious and deadly for the family members who buried them.

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