A death caused by Ebola in a major city in the Democratic Republic of Congo has raised fears that the epidemic could spread further.
It was confirmed by health officials in the African nation that the virus was responsible for the death of a woman in Butembo, a city with a population of 1.4 million.
World Health Organization’s emergency response chief said: “no one should be sleeping well tonight around the world.”
Reports claim that the woman was the mom of a known Ebola patient, who moved from the town at the center of the outbreak.
Experimental drugs have been transported into the area to prevent the virus from spreading. The virus is considered to be one of the most life-threatening pathogens that exist.
However, virologists warned that the situation is ‘hard to control’ as cases are in a conflict zone and roamed by armed militias.
The World Health Organization also admitted that the latest death makes ending the outbreak even harder.
The city’s mayor revealed that the victim who died in a university clinic was a woman, who was likely infected due to participating in an unsafe burial.
However, the DRC’s Ministry of Health said that it was a man from a nearby town at the center of the outbreak, who refused to work together with health authorities.
The WHO’s head of emergency operations Peter Salama wrote on Twitter: “Ebola case from Beni has died in Butembo DRC.
Good news is case detected quickly, response already in place and expanding. Bad new(s) is increases risk of further spread.”
He also told HuffPost: “When you have an Ebola case confirmed in a city with one million people, no one should be sleeping well tonight around the world.”
But he added that having Ebola in urban centers, such as Butembo, makes stopping the outbreak even harder.
Most of the 127 Ebola cases have been in Beni, a city of 270,000 people and is close to Uganda. Butembo is about 55 kilometers away, about triple the size of Beni. It is also a major trading route for consumer goods entering the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom said last week: “If one case is hidden in the red zone or an inaccessible area, it’s dangerous. It can just spark a fire, just one case.”
The agency that responds to humanitarian crises also feared the outbreak would become more severe than the pandemic four years ago, which killed 11,000 people.
“Without a swift, concerted and efficient response, this outbreak has the potential to be the worst ever seen,” said the International Rescue Committee.
According to WHO, the unsafe burial of a 65-year-old Ebola patient triggered the recent outbreak in DCR.
When the sufferer was buried, her family members began to experience symptoms of the virus and seven of them passed away.
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