The Congolese health ministry confirmed an Ebola case in Goma late Sunday, marking the first time the virus has reached the city of more than 2 million people along the border with Rwanda since the epidemic began nearly a year ago. The health ministry says the man, who arrived earlier Sunday in the regional capital, was quickly transported to an Ebola treatment center. Authorities say they have tracked down all the passengers on the bus the man took to Goma from Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the disease, the AP reports. "Because of the speed with which the patient was identified and isolated, and the identification of all the other bus passengers coming from Butembo, the risk of it spreading in the rest of the city of Goma is small," the health ministry said in a statement.
The virus has killed more than 1,600 people in Congo and two others who returned home across the border to neighboring Uganda. Health experts have long feared that it could make its way to Goma. The health ministries in Congo's neighbors have been preparing for months for the possibility of cases, and frontline health workers already have been vaccinated. The confirmed case announced late Sunday involves a pastor who became ill last Tuesday before leaving Butembo by bus, the health ministry says. Violent attacks against health workers and treatment facilities have greatly compromised efforts to combat the epidemic in Butembo. Eastern Congo is home to a myriad of armed groups, and Mai Mai militia fighters are active near the hardest hit towns. Health teams have been unable to access violent areas to vaccinate people at risk of infection and to isolate infected patients.
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