KINSHASA, Congo — Rwanda closed its border with Congo on Thursday in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak, while a Congolese official said a person who had contact with the second confirmed Ebola case in the border city of Goma was receiving treatment after showing signs of the disease.
The Ebola coordinator for North Kivu Province, Dr. Aruna Abedi, said the person in treatment was a suspected case. It was not immediately clear whether the person was a family member of the man who became Goma’s second confirmed Ebola case, and who died on Wednesday. He had spent several days at home with his family while showing symptoms.
If this suspected case is confirmed, it could be the first transmission of Ebola in this outbreak inside Goma, a city of more than 2 million people on the Rwandan border. The city is a major transit hub and thousands of people cross the border on foot daily.
The developments came as the Ebola outbreak entered its second year. It has now sickened more that 2,600 and killed more than 1,800 people, making it the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. Last month the World Health Organization declared it a rare global emergency.
The World Health Organization has recommended against travel restrictions in response to the outbreak but says the risk of regional spread is “very high.”
“The challenges to stopping further transmission are indeed considerable. But none are insurmountable,” the World Health Organization said in a Wednesday statement. “And none can be an excuse for not getting the job done.”
Rwanda’s state minister for foreign affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, confirmed the border closure to The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after World Health Organization officials had praised African nations for keeping their borders open. Last week Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to people from Congo, citing the Ebola outbreak, shortly before the annual pilgrimage there this month.