Congo races to contain Ebola after gold miner contaminates several in Goma

Sunday, August 4, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Aaron Ross
August 2, 2019

By Aaron Ross

GOMA, Congo (Reuters) – Congolese authorities were racing to contain an Ebola epidemic on Thursday, after a gold miner with a large family contaminated several people in the east’s main city of Goma before dying of the hemorrhagic fever, officials said.

The government’s Ebola response coordinator Jean-Jacques Muyembe said an estimated half of cases of Ebola – which has killed at least 1,800 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.

This is the second worst Ebola outbreak on record, after a 2013-16 West African epidemic infected 28,000 people and killed 11,300, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

On Friday the government said the wife of the miner had tested positive for the disease – the fourth case confirmed in Goma, more than 350 km (220 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected, raising fears of an acceleration in infections close to the border with Rwanda.

“The gold miner … will have contaminated several people, but for the moment it is only his wife and one of his ten children who are sick,” Muyembe said.

The man himself had died of the virus earlier this week and only sought treatment more than a week after starting to show symptoms.

“The individual concerned spent time with his family … (being) very symptomatic within the community. So we did expect further cases and we are seeing further cases,” Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation (WHO), which declared Ebola an international health emergency last month, told journalists in Geneva.

A sister of that same miner who had traveled to Congo’s South Kivu province was swiftly identified and brought back to Goma, Muyembe said.

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