The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has now reached Goma, a city with 2 million inhabitants, an international airport, and buses and ferries that travel throughout the region. The New York Times reports that an infected person reached the travel hub this weekend.
“The identification of the case in Goma could potentially be a game-changer in this epidemic,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization. He says Goma is “a gateway to the region and the world.”
Goma is located only half a mile from the Rwandan border. South Sudan also borders Congo and is not capable of controlling an outbreak. World Health Organization officials fear that the disease could spread to these countries.
The downside of declaring an emergency is that travel and trade restrictions could be put in place, causing more damage by hampering efforts to get people and medical supplies to the country.
Two healthcare workers have already been murdered while responding to the outbreak. There have been nearly 200 attacks on treatment centers and health workers since January, and seven others have died. There is a deep fear in the Congo that healthcare workers are behind the epidemic.
2,489 people have been infected and 1,665 have died. Members of the UN say that it is urgent to counteract the disease as quickly as possible, for it will only spiral more and more out of control.
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