Rwanda DR Congo border amid Ebola crisis

Rwanda has reopened its border with DR Congo, where an Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people in the past year.

The border was closed for several hours after the confirmation of a third case of Ebola in the Congolese city of Goma, where two people have already died.

At least 2,700 people have been infected in the worst Ebola outbreak in the country’s history.

Tackling the disease has been complicated by conflict in the region.

About 12 new cases are being reported every day in Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports.

Last week, the WHO designated the outbreak of Ebola a global health emergency, its highest level of alarm, but warned against trying to contain the virus by closing borders or restricting travel or trade.

Goma, home to two million people, is the capital of North Kivu, one of the two provinces in DR Congo which have borne the brunt of the epidemic.

The city lies just across the border from the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which has a population of around 85,000. Many residents cross the frontier for work and other activities – although illegal routes are also used.

The border had been closed “to avoid unnecessary crossings” to Goma, Gilbert Habayarimana, mayor of Rubavu district in western Rwanda which borders Goma, said earlier.

The Congolese presidency had criticised the decision to close the border, and people on the Rwandan side rejoiced after it was reopened.

Rwanda’s government has intensified cross-border monitoring, advising citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Goma, according to Health Minister Diane Gashumba.

A third case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, raising fears the virus could spread in the densely populated city.

The patient is the daughter of an artisanal miner who died on Wednesday. He had come from Ituri, the other province where many cases have been confirmed.

The other victim in Goma was a priest who died last month.

Efforts to control the outbreak have been hampered by violence against healthcare workers or Ebola treatment facilities. Seven people have been killed and 58 injured in 198 attacks this year. –BBC

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