Ebola virus reaches Congolese city of Goma

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FILE - In this Sunday, Sept 9, 2018 file photo, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo. The World Health Organization is announcing on Wednesday, Oct. 17 whether Congo's latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus should be declared a global health emergency. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, file)

The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed the first case of Ebola in the eastern city of Goma, a major transport hub that is home to more than two million people.

The health ministry confirmed that a pastor tested positive for the virus in a centre in Goma after arriving there by bus on Sunday from Butembo.

The ministry said all others on the bus had been tracked down.

Health workers have long feared the virus could reach the city.

But there was low risk of the disease spreading, the health ministry said.

“Because of the speed with which the patient has been identified and isolated, as well as the identification of all passengers from Butembo, the risk of spreading to the rest of the city of Goma remains low,” the statement read.

More than 1,600 people have died since the Ebola outbreak began in eastern DR Congo a year ago.

The pastor travelled 200 km (125 miles) to Goma by bus from Butembo, where he had been with people with Ebola.

The health ministry said in a statement that the bus driver and 18 other passengers would be vaccinated.

Goma is a major commercial and cultural hub on DR Congo’s border with Rwanda, with transport links to the wider country and region. Its health ministry has been preparing for an outbreak.

In November last year, it launched preparation and response activities. Some 3,000 health workers in the city have already been vaccinated.