The first Ebola patient in eastern Congo’s largest city, Goma, has died, the government said on Tuesday.
The spread of the virus to Goma, a city of roughly 1 million people on the border with Rwanda, has raised fears the outbreak, which is already the second deadliest Ebola epidemic ever, could spread more widely.
The patient was a priest who became infected during a visit to the town of Butembo, one of the epicentres of the outbreak, before taking a bus to Goma, according to Congo’s health ministry.
He was being driven from Goma to a clinic in Butembo on Monday to receive treatment when he died, North Kivu province’s Governor Carly Nzanzu, told an Ebola response meeting.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that health officials had identified 60 people who had come into contact with the pastor since he was taken ill and that half of them had been vaccinated.
Goma, a lakeside city more than 350 kilometres south of where Ebola was first detected a year ago, is the largest city to be affected by the outbreak, which has infected more than 2,500 people and killed nearly 1,700.
According to the Government of Canada, vaccination is being used as one of the several measures being used to help control the outbreak in Congo. Responders are using the investigational Ebola vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory.
There is currently no approved vaccine available to travellers to prevent Ebola infection.
Three Ebola cases which originated in Congo were confirmed in neighbouring Uganda a month ago, but no new cases have since been registered in that country.