DR Congo Ebola outbreak moves into Goma

UNICEF staff members stand as they practise disinfecting themselves while carrying out infection prevention and control training in Juba, South Sudan on February 21, 2019. - The training exercises have been implemented while the threat of Ebola reaching the country remains high with around 460 people having been killed by the virus across the border in DRC. (Photo by ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEX MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)

Congolese health officials confirmed an Ebola case in Goma. This marks the first time the virus has reached the city of more than two million people along the border with Rwanda since the epidemic began nearly a year ago.

The Goma confirmation was a priest who became infected during a visit to the town of Butembo, 200 km (124 miles) north of Goma, where he interacted with Ebola patients,” Congo’s health ministry said in a statement.

He developed symptoms last week before taking a bus to Goma on Friday. When he arrived in Goma on Sunday he went to a clinic where he tested positive for Ebola.

Officials had tracked down all the passengers on the bus the priest took to Goma from Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the disease.

“Due to the speed with which the patient has been identified and isolated, as well as the identification of all bus passengers from Butembo, the risk of spreading to the rest of the city of Goma remains low,” the ministry said.

The passengers and the bus driver will start getting vaccinations on Monday.

Goma has been preparing for the arrival of Ebola for a year; setting up hand-washing stations and making sure moto-taxi drivers do not share helmets.

But in more rural areas, the virus has been hard to contain. Local mistrust of health officials and militia violence have hobbled containment efforts and caused the number of new cases to spike.

The experimental vaccine is believed to have saved countless lives however not all Congolese people have accepted it. Some falsely believe that the vaccine is what is making people sick, in part because people can still develop the disease after getting the shot if they already had been infected.