Rwanda has shut its border with Democratic Republic of Congo after a third case of the deadly Ebola virus was detected in the city of Goma which shares bounderies with the Rwandan city of Gisenyi.
A statement from the office of the Congolese president, Felix Tshisekedi, on Thursday condemned what it called a “unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities”, saying it would affect citizens from both countries who had to cross the border as part of their daily life.
“On the basis of a unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities, Rwandan citizens cannot go to Goma and Congolese cannot leave Gisenyi but are prevented from going home,” the statement said.
“This decision harms a number of Congolese and expatriates who live in Gisenyi but work in Goma.”
It added: “The Congolese authorities regret this kind of decision, which goes against the recommendation of the World Health Organization.”
“Response teams are continuing to ensure that the city of Goma is out of danger,” it promised.
An AFP reporter in Goma and a resident in Gisenyi each confirmed the frontier had been closed. In Rwanda, a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “it is closed”, without giving further details.
Health workers are currently racing to find people who have had contact with the three Ebola patients in Goma.
Accoding to AFP, 15 people have also been placed in quarantine in South Kivu province, which has so far escaped the epidemic.
The 15, including a mother and her six children who had come from Goma, were isolated in a hospital at Birava, the hospital’s chief doctor, Ciza Nuru, said.
South Kivu Governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi told the press Thursday that tests on the 15 were negative.
The first death in Goma, reported on July 16, was of an evangelical preacher who had travelled from Goma to Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the outbreak.
During his stay there, he preached at seven churches and regularly touched worshippers, including the sick, and then returning to Goma by bus, investigators said.
The second Goma fatality had no connection with the first, according to their inquiry.
He was a gold miner who had been working in Mungwalu in Ituri province and had returned to his wife and 10 children at their home in the poor district of Kiziba.
He showed symptoms of Ebola on July 22 and went for outpatient treatment at a private clinic before going to hospital on July 30, which transferred him to an Ebola treatment centre.
His one-year-old daughter then fell ill and tested positive for the disease on Wednesday, according to investigators.
The latest epidemic is the second deadliest on record after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014-2016.