KIGALI: All travels to Ebola-hit areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) should be avoided, Rwandan Health Minister Diane Gashumba said while dismissing reports that Rwanda has closed its border with the DRC.
“Unessential travels to eastern DRC, including cross-border trade should be highly avoided,” said Gashumba when addressing a press conference in Kigali.
In response to earlier reports saying Rwanda has closed its border with the DRC, she noted that Rwanda’s border with DRC remains open, adding that the government would issue a statement in case of a temporary closure at the border.
Traffic at the border slowed down on Thursday morning as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures and public safety at entry points, she said.
The minister also cautioned against illegal crossings from or to the DRC.
She emphasized the need to seek immediate medical advice when falling ill during or immediately after traveling to the DRC.
The presidency’s office of the DRC said in a statement earlier on Thursday that Rwanda has closed its border with its western neighbor after a man died of Ebola in the populous eastern DRC city of Goma, which borders Rwanda to the east.
The man, in his 40s, has tested positive for the deadly virus and died on Wednesday in Goma. He was the second confirmed Ebola case in the city.
The DRC health authorities announced late Wednesday the confirmation of a third case in Goma.
This week marks one year since the start of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC that has already killed more than 1,700 people, making it the second worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Several United Nations agencies on Wednesday issued a joint statement calling for solidarity to end the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC.
“At this critical juncture, we reaffirm our collective commitment to the people of the DRC; we mourn those we have lost; and we call for solidarity to end this outbreak,” the joint statement said.