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First Ebola case in Congo city of Goma detected

It is thought he was receiving care from a nurse at his accommodation in Butembo but chose to leave the city, and arrived at a health centre in Goma, North Kivu province, on Sunday showing symptoms of Ebola. The border between the two countries extends into Lake Kivu, bottom left.

The case coincided with a regional Health Ministry statement that two Ebola workers were killed over the weekend by unidentified attackers near Mukulia in North Kivu province - the latest in a series of incidents in Congo's restive east hindering containment.

"The patient, who travelled from Butembo to Goma, was safely isolated and provided with medical care since his arrival to the center".

"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.

A World Health Organization response team member, Dr. Harouna Djingarey, quoted by Associated Press, said Goma authorities had located two buses taken by the pastor before he reached the city on Sunday.

Ebola has killed more than 1,600 people in DR Congo.

In June, the Ministry of Health said it was taking the Ebola outbreak in both neighbouring countries seriously and intensified the surveillance at points of entry, at health facilities and at community levels.

Health officials in Goma have reportedly been preparing for an outbreak.

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"God help us if Ebola is now in Goma", said Baudouine Rudahigwa, 30.

However, the WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the identification of a confirmed case in Goma "could potentially be a game-changer in the epidemic" and he would reconvene the emergency committee as soon as possible to reassess the situation.

The world's worst epidemic of Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever that can spread through bodily fluids, killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2013 to 2016. Last Tuesday the preacher fell ill and was seen at home by a nurse before he began his bus trip to Goma.

Congolese health officials will move the patient back to Butembo for treatment.

He said: "Although the risk of spread within DRC and in the region remains very high, we should not underestimate the magnitude of what has been achieved so far".

In this photograph taken Saturday 13 July 2019, health workers wearing protective suits tend to to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation cube in Beni, Congo DRC.

"We are dealing with one of the world's most risky viruses in the one of the world's most unsafe areas", Ghebreyesus said.

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.

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