efe-epaKinshasa

The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning to vaccinate about 100 people in the northeastern city of Goma who had contact with an evangelical preacher who died of Ebola, the Congolese health ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry of health said that a total of 97 people were listed for vaccination and assured that it would spare no effort until all people who had been in contact with the preacher have been vaccinated.

Among the identified people were two women from the pastor's family who were traveling with him to Butembo.

The preacher, who became the first person to test positive for Ebola in Goma and die, allegedly contracted the virus during a mission to Butembo, which is located further north, in the epicenter of the country's deadly Ebola outbreak.

The deceased began to show symptoms of the virus on July 9 in Butembo and was treated by a nurse before returning to Goma, a lakeside city of roughly one million people near the Rwandan border, three days later, according to the Congolese health ministry.

There he arrived voluntarily at a health clinic, where he tested positive for the virus.

The first Ebola case in Goma, the heavily populated capital of North Kivu province that has an international airport and borders Rwanda, has raised concerns that the outbreak could spread to other cities or bordering countries.

According to the most recent figures published by the Congolese health ministry, the death toll stood at 1,676, of which 1,582 were confirmed cases of the virus.

The World Health Organization scheduled a meeting for its Emergency Committee on Wednesday to reassess the situation.

This meeting came after Ebola reached a more populated and more strategic city that is located 20 kilometers away from the borders with Rwanda, increasing the chances of spreading the epidemic there.

The Committee is expected to make a formal recommendation to the WHO director general to either maintain the current alert level or to elevate it and declare an international health emergency.

On Nov. 30, the WHO confirmed that the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC is the second-worst in history after the 2014-2016 West African Ebola epidemic, which resulted in 28,600 cases and 11,325 deaths.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with blood and contaminated body fluids.

It causes hemorrhagic fever and can reach a mortality rate of 90 percent if not treated in time. EFE

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