Ebola Zone ‘Sharply Widened’ | TX Guv Tamps Down Concerns

The number of African immigrants and asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged. Governor Greg Abbott among other Texas officials has so far downplayed fears that they may be carrying Ebola. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio sector of Texas reported apprehending over 1,100 people from African countries since May 30.” – The Texan 

July 31, 2019

| AFP An epidemic of Ebola in eastern DR Congo sharply widened on Wednesday, the eve of the first anniversary of the outbreak, with the announcement of a death in a major city and the quarantining of 15 people in a province that had previously escaped the disease.

A total of 1,803 lives have been lost in the second-worst outbreak of Ebola on record, according to figures released Wednesday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s pointman on the crisis, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, said a second person had died of Ebola in Goma, a densely-populated city on the border with Rwanda that has transport links to many parts of East Africa.

“A patient who was confirmed with Ebola in Goma has died. Every measure has been taken to block the chain of transmission,” Muyembe told AFP.

Goma is the capital of North Kivu province, which has borne the brunt of the outbreak that began on August 1, 2018. US Officials Insist African Migrants Do Not Have Ebola

It is a lakeside city of more than two million people that has an airport with flights to the capital Kinshasa, Uganda’s Entebbe and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, as well as a port that links to Bukavu and South Kivu province.

Health experts fear outbreaks in major cities, where population density and high mobility make it far harder to isolate patients and trace contacts compared to the countryside.

“There is no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in Texas right now.”  – Texas Department of State Health Services [see report below]

Aruna Abedi, the chief Ebola coordinator in North Kivu, said the second fatality had arrived at a treatment centre “11 days after falling ill”.

“His was really a hopeless case, because the illness was already at an advanced stage and he died overnight Tuesday.”

Abedi urged the public to respond swiftly to symptoms of Ebola and “not hide suspect cases”.

“The treatment centre is not a dying room — you have to bring the patient in early,” he said.

– Public health emergency –

The first death in Goma, reported on July 16, sparked a wave of concern.

In that case, a man described as an evangelical preacher had travelled from Goma to Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the outbreak.

While there, he preached at seven churches and regularly touched worshippers, including the sick, before returning to Goma.

The day after his announced death, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern” — a move designed to step up the global response.

The WHO has since said a shortage in funding was finally being filled after several countries renewed pledges of financial aid.

The World Bank also announced this month it would deploy a further $300 million (269 million euros) in addition to $100 million already provided.

Many people in Goma voiced frustration and despair.

““Nobody thought Ebola was going to make its way into the United States. And it happened.” Spencer Fox, University of Texas at Austin [see report below]

“I’m now afraid that this disease will reach us. We used to hear about it from a distance and now the virus is in our town,” said 27-year-old worker Anuarite Sifa.

“Why hasn’t the Butembo-Goma road been sealed off?” she asked.

Joseph Bakisula, 32, said: “This new death proves that Ebola was already in Goma. May God help us, otherwise it will be catastrophic for us and other towns” connected to Goma.

“The authorities have to take other steps to protect us.”

Meanwhile, in neighboring South Kivu province, which had previously skirted the epidemic, a senior official in Birava said 15 people had been quarantined.

They comprised “a mum and her six children who came from Goma as well as other members of her family who had come to meet them,” said the official, Christian Birhinjira.

Birava is located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu.

– ‘Risks are high –

Among the Democratic Republic of Congo’s neighbours, fears have mounted that the highly contagious virus will cross porous borders.

“Economic and human exchanges are very intense,” the Central African Republic’s health minister, Pierre Somse, warned last week.

“Our livestock farmers sell their cattle in DR Congo. Rebel groups and poachers go back and forth across the border. The risks are high.”

Health Minister Oly Ilunga quit in protest on July 22 after President Felix Tshisekedi took personal control of the Ebola campaign.

One key challenge will be protecting doctors and nurses trying to contain the virus.

Attacks on health workers have had a devastating effect, with seven murdered and more than 50 seriously hurt, according to an unofficial tally.

The epidemic in DR Congo is the deadliest on record after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014-2016. © Agence France-Presse

Texans Unite as Growing Number of African Immigrants Arrive

SARAH MCCONNELL, July 31, 2019

The Texan – While the growing number of Central Americans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border – whether illegally or at a port of entry – continues to gain public attention, there is another group of individuals arriving by the hundreds.

In recent months, the number of African immigrants and asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, placing new strains not only on Border Patrol authorities in the Del Rio sector, but on the city of San Antonio as well.

The city, however, remains committed to welcoming them and providing humanitarian assistance however possible. Ebola Is Now “An International Emergency”

Traveling mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Angola, but also from countries like Sudan and Cameroon, Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio sector of Texas reported apprehending over 1,100 people from African countries since May 30.

According to Border Patrol’s Chief Patrol Agent for the Del Rio sector, Raul Ortiz, “the introduction of this new population places additional burdens on processing stations to include language and cultural differences,” but reiterated the agency’s commitment to meeting the challenge as the humanitarian crisis evolves.

Because many of the African immigrants are fleeing persecution or torture in their home countries based on their religious, ethnic, or political backgrounds, they may qualify for asylum on a legitimate basis, a notable distinction when compared to many of those coming from Central America …

While legitimate concerns exist about the spread of Ebola from countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, who are currently facing severe Ebola outbreaks, Governor Greg Abbott among other Texas officials has so far downplayed these fears.

On Twitter, Abbott shared a post from Laredo officials saying that no evidence of Ebola currently exists.

Additionally, Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said of the matter, “There is no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in Texas right now.” The concern was also dismissed by San Antonio officials, including interim assistant city manager Dr. Colleen Bridger. Read more. 

Austin health officials monitoring Ebola outbreak in Congo

CBS AUSTIN | The Austin Public Health department is monitoring the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with their regional, state and federal partners.

Back in 2014, there were three confirmed cases of Ebola in Texas, and it changed the way health care providers look at diseases like Ebola.

“Nobody thought Ebola was going to make its way into the United States. And it happened,” said Spencer Fox.

He is a statistical epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He and several his colleagues are watching the Ebola outbreak in Africa closely, because they wanted the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency of international concern sooner.

WHO did that this week, after a case was confirmed in the city of Goma in Congo. The fear is now that it is now in a large city, it can go anywhere in the world. That’s what happened in 2014, when a Liberian man visiting Dallas came down with Ebola and died.

“Being in Texas, there are a number of international airport that people are traveling in, it could pop up here,” Fox said.

Two nurses treated Thomas Duncan at the Dallas hospital also got the virus, even though they had worn protective gear … Read more. 

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