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Gold miner who died of Ebola infected many people
August 2, 2019
Gold miner’s wife tests positive – the fourth case confirmed in Goma – as officials fear epidemic could last 2-3 years.
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are racing to contain the Ebola virus after an infected man with a large family contaminated several people amid fears the epidemic could last two to three years in the country.
“The gold miner … will have contaminated several people, but for the moment it is only his wife and one of his 10 children who are sick,” the government’s Ebola response coordinator Jean-Jacques Muyembe said on Friday.
Only about 50% of cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being identified, the government’s response co-ordinator has said.
Jean-Jacques Muyembe warned that the current deadly outbreak could last up to three years.
He said a man who died this week in the city of Goma, on the Rwandan border, had 10 children and had infected a number of people.
Earlier this week, Rwanda briefly closed its border with the DR Congo amid fears the disease would spread to the country.
Speaking in Goma on Friday, Mr Muyembe said more needed to be done to tackle the outbreak, as an estimated half of Ebola cases were going unidentified.
“If we continue on that basis, this epidemic could last two or three years,” Mr Muyembe warned.
Speaking about the latest victim in Goma, a gold miner, he said that the man “will have contaminated several people”.
“But for the moment it is only his wife and one of his 10 children who are sick,” Mr Muyembe said.
Muyembe said the wife of the miner, who died of Ebola in eastern DRC, tested positive for the disease – the fourth case confirmed in Goma, capital of North Kivu province which is where the outbreak started.
The miner’s one-year-old daughter was confirmed on Thursday to have contracted the virus.
Goma lies just across the border from the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which has a population of about 85,000 people. Many residents cross the frontier for work and other activities, although illegal routes are also used.
Goma, home to two million people, is the capital of North Kivu, one of the two provinces in DR Congo which have borne the brunt of the epidemic.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said seven relatives of the gold miner have been placed under surveillance as a precaution in Goma,
The seven had sparked a scare on Wednesday after travelling from Goma to the town of Birava in neighboring South Kivu, a province that has so far escaped the year-old epidemic
“All seven were vaccinated and brought back to Goma. We put them up in a hotel last night and today we put them in an apartment to keep them there for monitoring,” WHO’s Ebola coordinator Dr Boubacar Diallo told the AFP news agency.
Officials are now trying to trace anyone who came into contact with the gold miner.
Muyembe said an estimated half of cases of Ebola – which has killed at least 1,823 people since the outbreak started a year ago – were going unidentified.
“If we continue on that basis, this epidemic could last two or three years,” he told a news conference in Goma.
“When you close borders … two things happen: first you get panic, people see this as a signal to start panicking,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva.
“Second, people who do have symptoms go underground … so we are even less likely to detect where this virus is moving,” she said.
The Ebola virus causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea, often followed by kidney and liver failure, killing more than half of its victims.
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