The news of the death raised serious concerns over the potential wide and rapid spreading of the virus which was until now limited to the province of North Kivu, including the cities of Butembo and Beni.
The patient was a Christian pastor who contracted the virus during a visit to the city of Butembo, known as one of the epicenters of the pandemic, before taking a bus back to Goma, according to Congo's health ministry.
“He was being driven on Monday to the city of Butembo to receive treatment in a clinic when he died,” said North Kivu province's Governor Carly Nzanzu.
WHO Calls Emergency Meeting on Ebola Outbreak Tomorrow Now That It Has Spread to Goma, a City of 1 Million This Is The 4th Time WHO Will Consider Declaring an International Emergency After Repeatedly Declining To Do So Declaring A Global Emergency Is Past Due#Ebola#GlobalHealthpic.twitter.com/v123EMdugz
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that health officials had identified 60 people that had come into contact with the priest, and that half of them are vaccinated.
The one million people city of Goma is located more than 350 kilometers south of where Ebola was first detected a year ago and is very close to the border with Rwanda. For now, it is the largest city to be affected by the outbreak, which is the second deadliest ever, as it has infected more than 2,500 people and caused nearly 1,700 deaths many of them children.
Last week the United Kingdom's (U.K.) international development secretary, Rory Stewart, urged to declare the virus in the DRC an emergency, after a two-day visit to the emergency health centers for Ebola virus victims in the cities of Butembo and Beni.
Healthcare workers have so far struggled to vaccinate people and to treat those already infected as their work is being prevented by the raging fighting between armed groups, but also by a large part of the population that do not trust the medical teams.