Rwanda Closes Border With Congo Due to Ebola Outbreak

Workers bury the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar who had prayed over the sick in Beni, Congo, on July 14. Kathembo died of Ebola. (AP photo/Jerome Delay)

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Rwanda closed its border with Congo over the deadly Ebola outbreak on Thursday, and a Congolese official said a person who had contact with the second confirmed Ebola case in the border city of Goma was receiving treatment after showing signs of the disease.

The Ebola coordinator for North Kivu province, Dr. Aruna Abedi, told The Associated Press that the person in treatment is a suspected case. Congo’s health ministry said it is the 1-year-old daughter of the man who died Wednesday and had spent several days at home with his large family while showing symptoms.

If this suspected case is confirmed, it could be the first transmission of Ebola in this outbreak inside Goma, a city of more than 2 million people on the Rwandan border. It is a scenario that health experts have long feared. The painstaking work of finding, tracking and vaccinating people who had contact with the man — and the contacts of those contacts — has begun.

Thursday’s developments came as the outbreak that has killed more than 1,800 people entered its second year. It is the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and in July the World Health Organization declared it a rare global emergency.

WHO has recommended against travel restrictions amid the outbreak but says the risk of regional spread is “very high.”

Rwanda’s state minister for foreign affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe confirmed the border closure to The Associated Press, a day after WHO officials had praised African nations for keeping their borders open. Last week Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to people from Congo while citing the Ebola outbreak, shortly before the annual hajj pilgrimage there this month.


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