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Officials and health workers have feared for months that the virus would reach the two million people city.
A second Ebola case has been confirmed Tuesday in Goma, one of the largest cities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The city had reported earlier this month its first Ebola death since the beginning of the outbreak last year.
"Our response teams have just detected and isolated a second case on July 30. It is initially not being linked to the first case," said an official statement, signed by Congolese professor and leading Ebola researcher Jean-Jacques Muyembe, interviewed by AFP.
The Ebola patient is a man from a northeastern rural community that arrived on July 13 from a mining area in northeastern Ituri province, one of the most-affected zone along with the North Kivu province. The patient began showing signs of the infection on July 22, as the symptoms generally start to occur between two and 21 days after the contagion, according to health experts.
Goma shares a border with Rwanda and is a key transport hub. Officials and health workers have feared for months that the virus would reach the two million people city, and following the first death on July 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a global emergency, after weeks of uncertainty.
The declaration of a global health emergency stirred a wave of millions of dollars in pledges by international donors but some health workers say a new approach is needed to combat misunderstandings in the community.
Many people in the region still do not believe that Ebola is real and are dying at home, health workers explain, while the survival depends on seeking treatment directly as the symptoms start.
Containing the spread of a virus whose contagion is extremely high has been a considerable challenge for the government and medical officials, partly because of the intense fights between rival militias in a region marked by conflicts and instability, and partly because of the communities’ mistrust.
Congolese health officials said that "all measures are being taken to strengthen surveillance at points of entry and sanitary control,” seeking to reassure both Goma residents and neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, and South Sudan who began to vaccinate health workers weeks ago, as WHO said the risk of regional spread is “very high.”
The current Ebola pandemic is the second deadliest in history claiming the lives of more than 1,700 people. 2,671 cases have so far been confirmed, including more than 700 children, more than half of whom are under five years age according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).