Kinshasa, Congo.- Congo’s fight to rein in a deadly Ebola outbreak has authorities crossing the border to buy up available thermometers, a World Health Organization official said, as the health ministry on Thursday announced that confirmed cases had reached 30, including eight deaths.
The spread of the often lethal hemorrhagic fever to a provincial capital of 1.2 million people has health officials scrambling to monitor for Ebola at busy ports in the capital, Kinshasa, which is downstream from the infected city of Mbandaka on the Congo River.
Mbandaka is one of three health zones with confirmed Ebola cases, complicating efforts to find and monitor hundreds of people who have been in contact with those infected. Two of the zones are rural and remote, with few roads or other infrastructure.
In Kinshasa, travelers streamed off boats at ports on the Congo River and ran a gauntlet of health officials watching for signs of infection.
“We want to ensure that ports and airports are effectively protected,” WHO’s Congo representative Allarangar Yakouide told The Associated Press. “I assure you, we have already taken all the thermometers that are in Kinshasa, practically all the thermometers, and there are even colleagues who are going on the other side to Brazzaville to buy thermometers.”
The Republic of Congo’s capital is across the river from Kinshasa, a city of 10 million.
A wave of panic briefly hit Kinshasa on Wednesday after rumors spread that an Ebola case had been admitted to the Kinshasa General Hospital. Yakouide denied it, saying no cases had been confirmed in the capital and warning against spreading false reports which “could create panic and undermine the effectiveness of the response to the Ebola outbreak.”