Second Ebola patient in DRC’s main eastern city Goma dies

Case increases fears the virus could take root in the densely populated urban area

A health worker looks on as he wears protective gear to mix water and chlorine in Goma, the DRC. Photograph: Pamela Tulizo/AFP/Getty Images

A health worker looks on as he wears protective gear to mix water and chlorine in Goma, the DRC. Photograph: Pamela Tulizo/AFP/Getty Images

 

The second patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main city of Goma has died after he sought treatment too late and was already bleeding, the head of the Congolese response effort said on Wednesday.

Confirmation of the case on Tuesday increased fears the virus could take root in the densely populated city of 2 million, which is more than 350km south of where the latest outbreak was first detected.

This would accelerate the spread of the disease, which has killed more than 1,800 people over the past year and become the second-worst outbreak on record.

The man died overnight in Goma’s Ebola treatment centre after spending a number of days sick at home, said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who leads the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s response to the epidemic.

“The Goma case died because he went to hospital very late,” Mr Muyembe said in a statement. “The patient was in a terminal state when he was diagnosed as he was already exhibiting symptoms of bleeding.”

The first Ebola case in Goma was confirmed in mid-July, since when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.

The two Goma cases are not linked, according to health officials.

Responders are keen to establish where the second patient was exposed to the virus and when exactly he fell ill, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan told reporters. He said the miner had recently travelled through the Ebola hotspots of Beni and Butembo.

“At this time we have no specific information regarding a specific exposure to a known Ebola case,” he said. – Reuters