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Wednesday, July 31, 2019, 10:37
Congo officials say 2nd Ebola case confirmed in city of Goma
By Associated Press
Wednesday, July 31, 2019, 10:37 By Associated Press

In this July 13, 2019 photo, health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

KINSHASA, Congo — Officials in Congo on Tuesday said a second Ebola case had been confirmed in Goma, the city of more than 2 million people whose first confirmed case in this yearlong outbreak was reported earlier this month.

The first confirmed Ebola case in Goma was a 46-year-old preacher who managed to pass through three health checkpoints on the way from Butembo

There appeared to be no link between the man's case and the previous one in Goma, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, a local Ebola response coordinator, told reporters. He arrived on July 13 from a mining area in northeastern Congo's Ituri province and started showing symptoms on July 22. He is now isolated at an Ebola treatment center. Ebola symptoms can start to occur between two and 21 days from infection, health experts say.

Goma is on Congo's heavily traveled border with Rwanda and has an international airport. For months health officials had feared that an Ebola case would be confirmed there. Days after the first Goma case was announced, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak a rare global emergency.

ALSO READ: Too many in Congo's Ebola outbreak are dying at home

In this July 14, 2019 photo, burial workers put on protective gear before carrying the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar who had prayed over those who were sick, and his wife, Asiya, to their final resting place in Beni, Congo. Both died of Ebola. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

This has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, with more than 1,700 people killed despite the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Containing the outbreak faces unprecedented challenges amid attacks by rebel groups and resistance by wary community residents in a region of Congo that had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before.

Muyembe and other officials on Tuesday sought to reassure both Goma residents and neighboring countries that measures were being taken to strengthen surveillance for Ebola at border posts and elsewhere. Neighboring Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan began vaccinating health workers weeks or months ago. WHO says the risk of regional spread remains "very high."

In this July 14, 2019 photo, workers bury the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar who had prayed over those who were sick in Beni, Congo. Kathembo himself died of Ebola. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

The declaration of a global health emergency — the fifth in history — brought a surge of millions of dollars in new pledges by international donors but some health workers say a new approach is needed to combat misunderstandings in the community. Far too many people in this outbreak are still dying at home, they say.

There is no licensed treatment for Ebola and survival can depend on seeking treatment as quickly as possible. And yet many people in the region don't believe that Ebola is real, health workers have said.

READ MORE: Ebola funding need to triple as international risk escalates

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Red Cross workers carry the remains of 16-month-old Muhindo Kakinire from the morgue into a truck as health workers disinfect the area in Beni, Congo. (JEROME DELAY / AP)

The first confirmed Ebola case in Goma was a 46-year-old preacher who managed to pass through three health checkpoints on the way from Butembo. The city is one of the communities hardest hit by this outbreak, which is second only to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead.

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