Two Ebola workers killed in eastern Congo

Doctors preparing to treat Ebola patients
Unidentified attackers killed two Ebola health workers in eastern Congo over the weekend, the health ministry said, the latest in a string of assaults that have hampered efforts to stop the deadly spread of the virus.

Local mistrust of health officials and militia violence in Congo's restive east have caused the number of new cases to surge. Nearly 2,500 people have been infected and more than 1,600 killed in the second biggest outbreak on record.

Dozens of responders have been injured or killed in attacks this year.

The two people killed, who were community workers near Mukulia in North Kivu province, had been receiving threats since December and one had been attacked previously, the ministry said in a statement.

The first case of Ebola in the eastern Congo city of Goma was discovered on Sunday, raising concerns the virus could spread quicker in a densely populated area close to the Rwandan border.

Goma, a lakeside city of 1 million people, is more than 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected a year ago.

The patient was a priest who became infected during a visit to the town of Butembo, 200 km (124 miles) north of Goma, where he interacted with Ebola patients, Congo's health ministry said in a statement.

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He developed symptoms last week before taking a bus to Goma on Friday. When he arrived in Goma on Sunday he went to a clinic where he tested positive for Ebola and he was taken back to a clinic in Butembo on Monday.

"Due to the speed with which the patient has been identified and isolated, as well as the identification of all bus passengers from Butembo, the risk of spreading to the rest of the city of Goma remains low," the ministry said.

Goma has been preparing for the arrival of Ebola for a year, setting up hand-washing stations and making sure mototaxi drivers do not share helmets.

Ebola causes diarrhoea, vomiting and hemorrhagic fever and can be spread through bodily fluids. An epidemic between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa.

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