Pastor confirmed with Ebola as disease spreads in DR Congo

A worker from the World Health Organization (WHO) decontaminates the doorway of a house on a plot where two cases of Ebola were found, in the village of Mabalako, in eastern Congo Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 July 2019

Pastor confirmed with Ebola as disease spreads in DR Congo

  • Ebola causes diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhagic fever and can be spread through bodily fluids

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, the biggest city to have been affected by the disease since its outbreak in eastern DR Congo last August, the health ministry said on Sunday.
The patient is a pastor who had been preaching in church and would have touched the hands of worshippers “including the sick,” the ministry said in a statement.
His symptoms first appeared last Tuesday in Butembo, one of the main towns touched by Ebola where he had been preaching.
He left by bus on Friday to Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, arriving early Sunday where “the results of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive for Ebola,” the ministry said.
“Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low,” the ministry said.
The other 18 passengers and the driver will begin getting vaccinations on Monday, it added.
Health workers in Goma were vaccinated as early as December when the outbreak first hit Butembo some 300km (185 miles) further north.
The two towns are separated by poor roads under the threat of armed groups.
The latest Ebola 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 on Saturday.
And 160,239 people have been vaccinated, it added.
The World Health Organization had initially voiced hope it would be able to contain the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever, thanks in part to the new vaccine.
But 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.
Insecurity in the restive region, including a long-standing presence of various rebel groups in Ituri and North Kivu, has also made it difficult for health workers to access those who might have come into contact with Ebola.
The disease spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.
The current outbreak is the tenth in DRC in 40 years, putting all of East Africa on alert.
It is already the second deadliest on record globally, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016 and killed more than 11,300 people.
 


Taj Mahal reopens even as India coronavirus cases soar

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago

Taj Mahal reopens even as India coronavirus cases soar

  • India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world’s most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million Covid-19 cases
  • Taj Mahal usually draws seven million visitors a year, but has been closed since March

AGRA: India’s famed Taj Mahal and some schools reopened on Monday as authorities pressed ahead with kickstarting the nation’s coronavirus-battered economy despite soaring infection numbers.
India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world’s most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million Covid-19 cases, second only to the United States which it could overtake soon.
But after a strict lockdown in March that devastated the livelihoods of tens of millions of people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to copy some other nations and tighten the screw on activity again.
Instead in recent months his government has eased more and more restrictions including on many train routes, domestic flights, markets, restaurants — and now, visiting the Taj Mahal.
“So many people lost their job during the lockdown. People have suffered a lot and it is time the country opens up fully,” said bank official Ayub Sheikh, 35, visiting the Taj with his wife and baby daughter.
“We are not afraid of the virus. If it has to infect us, it will,” Sheikh told AFP. “Not many people are dying now. I don’t think it is going to go away soon. We have to get used to it now.”
The jaw-dropping white-marble mausoleum in Agra south of New Delhi is India’s most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year, but has been closed since March.
Officials said strict social distancing rules were in place and visitors were not allowed to touch the marble. The famous bench where visitors sit for a photo — most memorably Princess Diana in 1992 — has been specially laminated so that it can be regularly sanitised without damage.
Early on Monday a couple of hundred of visitors were inside. Security personnel were reminding everyone to wear masks once photos have been clicked. Daily visitor numbers have been capped at 5,000 — a quarter the normal rate.
“Coronavirus is there in every country,” Spanish visitor Ainhoa Parra told AFP. “We are taking all the safety measures that we can. We have to be careful but if we have to get infected we will.”
“So many livelihoods depend on the Taj. It’s great to be back in business,” said local official Satish Joshi.


Elsewhere in India, particularly in rural areas where infections are soaring, anecdotal evidence suggests that government guidelines on avoiding the virus are more often ignored than adhered to.
“I think, not just in India but all over the world, fatigue with extreme measures that were taken to restrict the growth of the coronavirus is setting in,” said Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, predicting that infections will keep rising as a result.
Many experts say that even though India is testing more than a million people per day, this is still not enough and the true number of cases may be much higher than officially reported.
The same goes for deaths, which currently stand at more than 86,000, with many fatalities not properly recorded even in normal times in one of the world’s worst-funded health care systems.
There is however some resistance to Modi’s unlocking of the world’s second-most populated country, which saw its economy contract by almost a quarter between April and June.
Schools were allowed to resume Monday on a voluntary basis for students aged 14 to 17, but most Indian states have said it is still too soon.
In those states where they can open, schools themselves refused to open and parents are wary of sending their children in.
In one rural school in the northeastern state of Assam for instance, out of 400 students only eight showed up on Monday morning.
“I am prepared for my son to lose an academic year by not going to school rather than risk sending him,” said Nupur Bhattacharya, the mother of a nine-year-old boy in the southern city of Bangalore.