Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have appealed for calm after a preacher fell ill with Ebola in the eastern city of Goma, the first recorded case of the disease in the region’s urban hub in a nearly year-old epidemic.
Goma, which has a population of around one million, is the capital of North Kivu province, the epicentre of an outbreak that has claimed more than 1,600 lives — the second-highest toll in Ebola’s history.
In a statement, North Kivu Governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita stressed the new case “not only was detected at an early stage but also was isolated immediately, avoiding any further contamination.”
“I call on the population of the city of Goma and its outskirts to keep calm… (and) co-operate with response teams by observing hygiene and prevention measures and notifying any suspected case of Ebola,” he added.
According to the latest health ministry figures, issued on Saturday, 1,655 people have died from the notorious haemorrhagic virus since August 1 last year, when the disease broke out in North Kivu and spread to neighbouring Ituri.
Nearly 700 people have been cured, and more than 160,000 been vaccinated.
The Goma patient is a Christian pastor who had preached at a church in another town, Butembo, where he would have touched worshippers “including the sick”, the health ministry said Sunday.
His symptoms first surfaced last Tuesday.
The preacher on Friday took a bus from Butembo, one of the town’s hardest hit by the outbreak, and arrived two days later in Goma, where “the results of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive for Ebola”, the ministry said.
“Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low,” it added.\
The pastor was swiftly taken back to Butembo, about 300 kilometres (180 miles) from Goma, the governor added.
The other passengers on the bus, 18 in all, and the driver will be vaccinated against Ebola on Monday, said the ministry, urging the population of one of Africa’s largest countries to “keep calm”.
The United Nations was convening a “high-level event” in Geneva on Monday to discuss response and preparedness for the Ebola outbreak.
It will be attended by government ministers from DR Congo and Britain, senior officials of the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other UN agencies.
Last month, the WHO said the outbreak did not qualify as an international threat — a category that significantly ramps up global response to a contagious disease.
Its decision took into account cases of infection that surfaced in Uganda among a family that had travelled to eastern DR Congo to see a relative stricken with Ebola.
Ebola spreads when humans touch the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.
Militia attacks –
Health workers in Goma were vaccinated as early as December when the outbreak first hit Butembo further north.
Efforts to roll back Ebola have been hampered by Insecurity in a region plagued by militia groups, who have attacked treatment centres.
Local hostility to health workers trying to trace and isolate people in contact with Ebola patients is another hurdle.
Two more Ebola workers were murdered in their homes in North Kivu after months of threats, the ministry said.
The latest epidemic is the 10th documented outbreak in DR Congo since the disease was identified in 1976 near the Ebola River, which gives it its name.
It is the second deadliest on record globally, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, killing more than 11,300 people.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed receives Nobel Peace Prize
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was on Tuesday handed his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
The event was attended by the Norwegian royal family, government officials and public figures. Ironically, the prize-giving happened at a time ethnic violence was rising in the East African country.
However, the 43-year-old Prime Minister and former Intelligence Chief reaffirmed his readiness to face the challenges that come with peace.
“For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees. Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.” Ahmed said.
Following the Nobel Committee’s announcement in October that it was honouring Ahmed for his efforts to decisively resolve the long-running conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopians have expressed their concerns over the decision to honour him the prestigious award with many saying it came too early to the Prime Minister who only assumed office in April 2018.
Few months after the announcement by Nobel Committee, Ahmed shocked many, including the Committee itself when he disclosed that he was not going to grant interviews to international media or even field questions from young students who are usually given such opportunity at an event hosted by Save the Children.
Following a meeting held in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital on 9 July 2019, between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki the 20-year-old cold war between the two countries was formally brought to an end.
Recall that the two countries plunged into prolonged hostility following the 1998-2000 border conflict.
The historic achievement happened barely three months after Ahmed assumed office as Ethiopian Prime Minister and was largely due to his diplomacy in tackling the issue.
Ahmed also showed his eagerness to boost the nation’s democracy when he released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality, welcomed home exiled armed groups, established a national reconciliation committee and lifted the ban on some political parties.
Notwithstanding all the laudable reforms, Ahmed still faces some major challenges.
His commitment to hold the first “free, fair and democratic” elections since 2005 is being threatened by ethnic violence.
About 80 people have been killed in protests in the country in less than two weeks after his Nobel Peace Prize announcement.
On arrival in Oslo, Ahmed told a Norwegian journalist that:
“The situation in Ethiopia has… new challenges but without challenges, there is no way that we can do something new,”
“We consider those challenges as a great opportunity to do something positive.”
Austrian, Rosenberger, Triumphant at 2019 Safaricom East African Safari Classic Rally
After 9 exhilarating race days across Kenya and Tanzania, Kris Rosenberger emerged as the new Safaricom East African Safari Classic Rally champion, after powering his Tuthill Porsche 911 to victory in Mombasa on Saturday.
The Austrian and co-driver Nicola Bleicher finished ahead of 2015 Safari Classic champion Stig Blomqvist, also in a Porsche 911. Rosenberger held a 1 minute 19.40 seconds advantage over Blomqvist before the final stage and went on to finish second in the final Mombasa Cement stage. The Austrian, who last rallied in Kenya in 1989, cruised to the finish of the 9-day endurance rally to claim victory by 13:01:48.
“It was a fantastic rally, our tactics were 100% right. We know Stig, he is obviously the best and we knew if we stay close to him and we had the pace and as we rallied through the last stage we pushed really hard. We also know that it’s really hard to beat Blomqvist and we are aware of that for sure. He had more problems than us and we still think he is the man and we are happy to be here”, said Rosenberger.
Blomqvist, navigated by compatriot Jorgen Fornander, applied his extensive experience in endurance rallying when things got tougher in the last two days of the rally. In the last section on Friday, his Porsche 911 steering dumper broke 50Km into the last stage, while on Saturday, he had a soft roll in the last Mombasa Cement stage thus losing some time and ultimately placing second.
Kabras Sugar Racing’s Onkar Rai completed the podium dash, finishing third in a Porsche 911 navigated by Drew Sturrock. Onkar managed to post the fastest times in 6 out of the 20 run competitive stages.
“I span in this last stage and luckily we are here. To be honest, it’s been a quick safari and to be able to beat people like Stig is a pretty big achievement for me. Drew has been on the notes and I have been on the pace. We had a bit of bad luck, it’s part of rallying and we get over it and we would like to be back in 2021, Onkar said.
Other best placed Kenyans include Onkar’s older brother Tejveer Rai/Gavin Laurence who finished 8th, ALS Motorsports Aslam Khan/Imran Khan who finished 11th,, while Kabras Sugar Racing’s Baldev Charger/Ravi Sini finished 14th.
Another notable driver who emerged as the new driver to watch was 27-year-old Welshman Osian Pryce, navigated by fellow countryman Dale Furnish. Osian set the quickest time in the prologue and went on to rack up the fastest times in 4 stages, including the 14Km last stage at Mombasa Cement in Kenya’s Kilifi County.
Local rally ace Baldev Charger was the events front runner in the early days, before falling behind. He did however, manage to post fastest times in 4 stages. Out of the 20 competitors that started the 3,390km journey, 17 survived the demanding course across Kenya and Tanzania. Italy’s Gilberto Sandretto navigated by legend Fabrizia Ponz, was forced to end his run, citing important personal reasons back at home that he had to attend to. Another exit was Kenya’s Rommy Bhamra who left the rally unexplained.
staying true to the nature of the safari classic rally, the weather played a
major role in the cancellation or revision of several stages: The Day 3
itinerary was cancelled after torrential rain and subsequent flash floods
rendered several sectors of the stages impassable, forcing the organizers to
give the competitors a near full extra day service in Arusha, Tanzania.
Six-storey residential building collapses in Embakasi, Nairobi
Access to the scene by emergency responders was hampered by the poor state of the roads in Tassia
A six-storey building in Tassia, Embakasi, a suburb in Nairobi, has collapsed with scores of people inside it. According to the residents of the building, the structure began sinking at around 5:00 am this morning and eventually collapsed. Eyewitnesses at the scene say that three bodies had been retrieved as of 1:00 pm EAT.
Access to the scene by emergency responders was hampered by the poor state of the roads in Tassia estate and made even worse by the ongoing heavy rains being experienced in the city and across the country.
The Kenya Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, Emergency Plus Medical Services (EMS Kenya) and the Kenya Police are at the scene and are being aided by the area residents.
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