A second case of Ebola was detected in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the Provincial Minister of North Kivu, Valerien Mbalikwirand, said.
The case increases concern the virus could establish a foothold in the densely populated area close to the Rwandan border.
Goma’s first Ebola case was detected in mid-July, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the spread of the disease could accelerate. The epidemic has killed more than 1,700 people since it was declared almost a year ago, becoming the second-worst outbreak on record.
According to a local health official, the latest person with the disease started developing symptoms on July 22, after arriving from a mining area outside the city.
Health officials believe the patient, a man, is not connected to the first case in Goma.
The epidemiologist in charge of the Ebola response team, Jean Jacques Muyembe, said response teams began de-contaminating the areas where the patient had passed through and that vaccinations would start tomorrow.
“We already have response teams in the field to first disinfect the victims’ home and also the health centre through which he passed. We have already established a list of high-risk contacts and as early as tomorrow we will start to compile a list of contacts, and as early as tomorrow these contacts will be vaccinated with the vaccine we have here,” Muyembe said.
He said, unlike the first case, the latest patient will be able to receive appropriate treatment in Goma as a facility has been opened in the city, which is more than 350 kilometres south of where the outbreak was first detected.
Goma has been preparing for Ebola to arrive in the city for a year, setting up hand-washing stations and making sure moto-taxi drivers do not share helmets.