Health

Congolese Ebola victim may have entered Rwanda, says WHO

FILE PHOTO: A Ugandan health worker prepares to administer the Ebola vaccine to a man in Kirembo village, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kasese district, Uganda June 16, 2019. REUTERS/James Akena

GENEVA (Reuters) – A woman who died this month of Ebola may have carried the disease into Rwanda, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, a day after it declared an outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo an international health emergency.

The Congolese woman was a fishmonger who vomited multiple times at a market in Uganda on July 11, a few days before she died, a Ugandan Health Ministry report published by the WHO said on Wednesday.

The WHO said on Thursday that the ministry suspected that, while infected, the woman had also gone to the Congolese city of Goma and Gisenyi in Rwanda on business. Rwanda has never had a recorded case of Ebola.

Three people died in Uganda last month during the current epidemic, which has killed almost 1,700 people in 11 months. But they did not spread the disease further in Uganda, and the rest all died in Congo.

Labelling the outbreak an international emergency is a rare designation through which the WHO aims to galvanise global support to stop it from spreading further.

The move was prompted in part by the case of the fishmonger and by that of a pastor who died of Ebola after going to Goma, a city of 2 million on the Rwandan border.

Rwanda’s health minister was not immediately available for comment, while Ugandan Health Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyona said Ugandan and Congolese health workers were trying to find people at risk following the market episode.

“The team from Uganda has visited Mpondwe Market (where the fishmonger vomited) and carried out tests on the traders, but no one has been found to be positive of the Ebola virus,” he said.

The team was still monitoring the traders who had been tested.

Reporting by Tom Miles; additional reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali; editing by John Stonestreet


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