The second patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest city, Goma, has died a day after the case was announced, according to officials.
Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, DRC’s Ebola response coordinator, confirmed the death on Wednesday saying, “a patient who was confirmed with Ebola in Goma has died. Every measure has been taken to block the chain of transmission,” Muyembe-Tamfum said.
The incident has increased fears the virus could take root in the densely populated city of around two million. Goma is more than 350 kilometres south of where the outbreak was first detected.
Experts warned that the latest incident could accelerate the spread of the disease, which has killed over 1,800 people over the past year and became the second-worst outbreak on record.
In a joint statement hours after the death was confirmed, several United Nations agencies expressed concern over, saying: “This latest case in such a dense population center underscores the very real risk of further disease transmission, perhaps beyond the country’s borders.”
On Thursday, neighbouring Rwanda closed its border with the DRC because of the outbreak, Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s state minister for foreign affairs told The Associated Press news agency.
The Congolese presidency confirmed the closure in a statement, saying there had been a “unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities” to shut the border for all people other than Congolese citizens leaving Rwanda. It called the decision “regrettable” and said it ran counter to the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Aruna Abedi, who is coordinating the Ebola response in North Kivu, the worst-hit province, said the second patient to die from Ebola in Goma had arrived at a treatment centre “11 days after falling ill”.
“His was really a hopeless case because the illness was already at an advanced stage and he died overnight on Tuesday.”
Abedi urged the public to respond swiftly to symptoms of Ebola and “not hide suspect cases”.
“The treatment centre is not a dying room – you have to bring the patient in early,” he said.
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