A general view shows the triage where patients are registered after ebola screening upon entering the General Hospital in Goma. Picture: Olivia Acland/Reuters

Goma - The first Ebola patient in Goma, capital of the province of North-Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has died, authorities have said. 

Carly Nzanzu, the governor of North-Kivu, announced on Tuesday the death of the person who tested positive for Ebola. During an on-site briefing in Goma, the governor said that the person died on the road while being transferred to Butembo for treatment at the Ebola treatment centre. "As you know, a case of Ebola was discovered here in Goma on July 14. 

Our response teams took care of the case directly, but unfortunately, I can confirm the death of the patient who died on the way going to Butembo because that's where he needed to be treated, "said Carly Nzanzu. 

 According to the authorities, the victim is a pastor from South-Kivu who arrived in Goma last Sunday after a short stay in Butembo, another city in the province of North-Kivu hard hit for several months by the Ebola outbreak. 

This Protestant preacher regularly laid hands on Christians, including the sick. His first symptoms appeared on July 9 while he was still in Butembo. He was followed by a home-based nurse until he left for Goma on July 12, according to the Health Minister Oly Ilunga who made public the Ebola case on Sunday. 

Upon his arrival in Goma on Sunday morning, the pastor went to a health centre to continue his treatment. Nurses and doctors at the health centre who recognized the symptoms of Ebola immediately alerted the response teams in Goma who transferred him to the Ebola Treatment Center. Later, the result of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive to Ebola, according to the health minister in the same statement. 

Due to the large influx of travellers from areas affected by the epidemic, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) had been preparing for the last eight months to respond to the epidemic. 

According to the authorities of the province of North-Kivu, high-risk contacts have already been identified. The vaccination of the passengers and the driver of the bus started from Monday, according to the health ministry. 

The city of Goma is bordering Rwanda. At the announcement of this positive case in the city of Goma, the Rwandan authorities announced the reinforcement of surveillance measures of the epidemic on the border with the DRC, especially with the city of Goma. 

Several other countries in the region have also stepped up surveillance measures, including Burundi and Uganda, which share the land border directly with the DRC. Since the declaration of the epidemic last year, at least 1,655 have already died, including 1,561 out of 2,383 confirmed cases, according to the latest official figures from the Ministry of Health. 

Xinhua