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Health Officials Strive to Fend off Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

Health officials are working to contain the potential spread of Ebola to the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The health ministry confirmed on Sunday that a pastor travelling by bus to the city tested positive for the virus, but officials say that due to containment efforts—including quick identification and isolation of the patient, identification of all passengers on the same bus, and vaccination of the driver and passengers—the risk of the disease spreading in the city is low.

The health ministry in Goma—a city of more than a million people, located close to the Rwandan border—has been preparing for an Ebola outbreak since late 2018, when it launched preparation and response activities such as vaccinating 3,000 health workers, according to the BBC​.

During the last major Ebola outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, about 11,310 people died. The current disease outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people and 694 have been cured, according to a health ministry bulletin. More than 160,000 people have been vaccinated.

According to Al Jazeera, “efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centers, in which some staff have been killed, and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.”

Read more about biodefense strategies and emergency preparedness in Security Management’s “Evolving Biothreats” and “Urgent Calls for Bio Reform​” articles.