A doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has contracted Ebola in ‘no-go’ zone dogged by militia violence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The unnamed medic has been hospitalised with the disease after catching the viral infection from his wife when she traveled from their home in Oicha, North Kivu, to the nearby city of Beni, where the outbreak is thought to have begun.
Oicha is almost entirely surrounded by Ugandan Islamist militia, with aid workers, priests and government officials being held hostage in the area.
Dr Peter Salama, from the WHO, said: ‘For the first time really we have a confirmed case and contacts in an area of very high insecurity. It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem at same time that we were dreading.’
Across the DRC, 63 people are feared to have died to date in the outbreak that began on August 1.
Virologists have warned the situation is ‘hard to control’ due to cases being in a conflict zone roamed by armed militias. Such patients are at risk of being displaced to refugee camps where the virus can thrive.
The doctor initially tested negative for Ebola tests, however, classic symptoms of fever and vomiting have led to his hospitalisation. The results of a new test are pending.
To date, 97 of the medic’s contacts who may have been exposed to the virus have been identified. Vaccination has also begun in his town.
Dr Salama said: ‘We know from that incident now in Oicha we are going to have to operate in some very complex environments due to security and access concerns.