The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.

Sunday, January 20, 2019
By Paul Martin

With at least 680 cases, it’s already the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.

By Julia Belluz
VOX.com
Jan 19, 2019

At least 680 people have been infected with the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, with 414 deaths so far, and the first Ebola outbreak in an active war zone, DRC’s eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

But it could get worse: Health officials this week are concerned that Ebola appears to be spreading in the direction of Goma, a major population center in DRC.

Just this week, DRC’s health ministry confirmed four cases of the deadly virus in Kayina, a town in North Kivu, where fighting among rebel and militia groups has repeatedly interrupted the painstaking work of health workers who are responding to the outbreak.

Kayina happens to be halfway between Butembo, currently one of the outbreak’s most worrisome hotspots, and Goma, where a million people live.

So far, the outbreak has not affected DRC’s biggest cities. But Ebola in Kayina “raises the alarm” for Ebola reaching Goma, Peter Salama, the head of the new Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization, told Vox on Friday.

Goma is a major transportation hub, with roads and highways that lead to Rwanda. “These are crossroad cities and market towns,” Salama added. People there are constantly on the move doing business, and also because of the insecurity in North Kivu. Ebola in Goma is a nightmare scenario WHO and DRC’s health ministry are scrambling to prevent.

Together, they’ve deployed a rapid response team, including a vaccination team, to Kayina. And if the virus moves on to Goma, Salama says Ebola responders are ready. They’ve already mobilized teams there, set up a lab, and prepared health centers where sick people can be cared for in isolation.

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