In the bustling border town of Goma, a second case of Ebola has been discovered, fueling fears that the now one-year eruption of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will continue to flourish and spread.
Goma, a city of about 30 inhabitants, is home to two million people living on the border with Rwanda and serving as a transport hub, operating an international airport and monitoring around 15,000 border crossings every day.
The first case of Ebola in Goma earlier this month quickly led the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency (PHEIC). The organization says that the risk of national and regional outbreaks continues to be "very high".
Late Tuesday, July 30, Congolese officials confirmed the second case in Goma. According to an Associated Press report from Kinshasa, DRC, this was a man in his forties who arrived from Goma on 13 July from a mining area in the Ituri province of the DRC. The northeastern province is severely affected by the current outbreak, most of which has remained in Ituri and the neighboring provinces of North Kivu. However, the man reportedly visited an area in Ituri where no Ebola cases were documented, which made it unclear exactly where he was exposed to the deadly viral disease. He started showing symptoms in Goma on July 22 and was taken to an Ebola treatment center in isolation.
On Wednesday, officials announced that the man had died in the early morning.
Ebola Response Coordinator Jean-Jacques Muyembe told reporters at the same time that the task forces were rapidly working to disinfect his home and the health center he had visited. "There is no need to panic," he added.
Likewise, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a series of tweets on early Wednesday that "quick response teams have stepped into action to prevent further transmission."
"The risk of national Ebola spread is high," continued Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The population in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is very mobile. This is an event we were expecting. That's why we at Goma have been doing intensive preparatory work to identify and respond to each new case. "
So far, the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with nearly 2,700 cases and more than 1,800 deaths since the August 1, 2018 declaration, has reached the second largest outbreak in history. The outbreak is also only the fifth time in the history of WHO has declared a PHEIC.
The Declaration has made new commitments to finance and support outbreaks that have been severely hampered by violent attacks and mistrust and misunderstandings in the community. Although responders have used the highly effective ring immunization strategy – using an experimental vaccine that has proven to be 97.5% effective – health workers have sought to strengthen the confidence of community members who often die without medical help.
MSF (MSF) noted in a press release earlier this month: "This high number of deaths in the community (which was around 40%) is a strong indicator that the outbreak is certain is not under control. "