First case of Ebola in Congo city of Goma detected

Factfile on how the Ebola virus attacks

Factfile on how the Ebola virus attacks

Since the latest outbreak began in the Democratic Republic of Congo last August, the virus has ravaged the northeastern provinces of North Kivu - where Goma and Butembo are located - and neighboring Ituri.

As a result of the speed in which the patient was quickly isolated and transferred to an Ebola treatment center, the risk of the disease spreading in Goma was low, the ministry said.

According to the Congolese Ministry of Health, the cleric travelled 200 km (125 miles) to Goma by bus from an area called Butembo, where he had been with people with Ebola.

Authorities said they had tracked down all the passengers on the bus the man took to Goma from Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the disease.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the development was so worrying that he was reconvening the agency's emergency committee as soon as possible "to assess the threat of this development". "We have been doing intensive work to prepare Goma so that any case is identified and responded to immediately".

The UN is convening a "high-level event" in Geneva Monday to discuss response and preparedness for the Ebola outbreak.

But the government did not rule out using other vaccines in the future, "once their efficacy has been proven", a government directive to health workers said on Wednesday.

Worldwide health emergency declarations nearly always boost global attention and lead to an increase in aid.

"All of these challenges make this outbreak one of the most complex humanitarian emergencies any of us have ever faced", Ghebreyesus told reporters, noting that the risk of spread within the country and in the region remains "very high". "The need is for money now".

The UK has already been one of the most generous donors to the response - giving around £37.7 million in total - and global development secretary Rory Stewart pledged an extra £50 million to fight the disease.

Apart from insecurity, the biggest challenge is money, officials said. "We are going to need considerably more investment if we are to get down to zero [cases] in eastern DRC".

But, he added, "I call on the population of the city of Goma and its outskirts to keep calm..."

Health workers dressed in Ebola protective suits are seen as they prepare an ebola preparedness facility at the Bwera general hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019.

Local mistrust of health officials and militia violence in Congo's restive east have caused the number of new cases to surge.

"We are dealing with one of the world's most risky viruses in the one of the world's most unsafe areas", Ghebreyesus said.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak has spread through Congo's North Kivu and Ituri provinces for nearly exactly one year. "In addition, at each checkpoint he wrote different names and surnames on the lists of travellers, probably indicating his desire to hide his identity and state of health", the ministry said.

The world's worst epidemic of Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever that can spread through bodily fluids, killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2013 to 2016.