“Sad news coming from Goma, DRC — the second Ebola case has been confirmed,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general, said on Twitter.
Health officials have feared Ebola’s arrival in the city for months. Goma is home to a highly mobile population of more than 1 million, which makes the risk of the disease spreading high, Ghebreyesus has warned.
“This is an event we have anticipated. This is why we have been doing intensive preparedness work in Goma so that any new case is identified and responded to immediately,” he said.
More than 5,000 health workers have been vaccinated against Ebola in the city and health centers have been provided with training and equipment to improve infection prevention and control, he said.
Screenings at border crossings have been reinforced and 24-hour monitoring has been implemented at the airport, Ghebreyesus added.
WHO declared the latest Ebola outbreak a Health Emergency of International Concern on June 17, a day after the first person diagnosed in Goma died. That patient was a pastor who had left South Kivu to evangelize in Butembo, a center of the current Ebola outbreak.
Ghebreyesus said there was no indication that the person struck with the illness was linked to the first case.
The rare but deadly Ebola virus disease can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and unexplained bleeding, among other symptoms. The virus was first identified in 1976 when outbreaks occurred near the Ebola River in the DRC.
Scientists think the virus initially infected humans through close contact with an infected animal, such as a bat, and then the virus spread from person to person.
The virus spreads between humans through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, including infected blood, feces or vomit, or direct contact with contaminated objects, such as needles and syringes.
The current Ebola outbreak in the DRC is the second-deadliest in history, topped only by one in West Africa in 2014, when the disease killed more than 11,000 people, according to the WHO.