U.N. employee in eastern Congo tests positive for Ebola

In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo. Sometimes violent community resistance is complicating efforts to contain Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak, causing the rate of new cases to rise. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, File)

A United Nations employee in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has tested positive for Ebola, the first such incident during the current outbreak, this is according to the head of the UN peacekeeping mission.

The employee, a plumber is believed to have contracted the virus at a health centre in the city of Beni run by a traditional healer where someone with Ebola had sought treatment, the ministry said in a daily bulletin.

“A U.N. colleague based in Beni has tested positive for Ebola, and is now receiving the necessary medical treatment,” the head of Congo’s U.N. peacekeeping mission, Leila Zerrougui, wrote in a letter to employees.

Confirming the incident, the health ministry noted that five more confirmed cases and five new deaths had been recorded, bringing the total number of deaths to 130 and confirmed or probable cases to 205 since July.

It added that the plumber’s colleagues registered to be vaccinated on Saturday and have been placed on paid leave for 21 days, the maximum incubation period of the virus.

U.N. workers have taken an active role in the response to the outbreak, including by providing security to first responders in areas threatened by militia groups.

Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever that spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of its victims and typically kills about half of those it infects.

A senior World Health Organization official told Reuters on Thursday he expected the outbreak to last at least another three or four months and said it could spread to Uganda or Rwanda.

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