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DR Congo patient cured of Covid-19, Health minister says

Tuesday March 24 2020

Novel coronavirus DRC

A medical staff checks a man's temperature on border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi on March 18, 2020. DRC has reported that a patient has been cured of the novel coronavirus. PHOTO | ONESPHORE NIBIGIRA | AFP 

By PATRICK ILUNGA

Kinshasa

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said that the first patient to be confirmed with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) could walk out of hospital soon after he was cured.

Congolese Health Minister Eteni Longodo announced on Monday night that the patient had concluded the final confirmation tests and that he no longer had the virus.

“[We] have the first case of Covid-19 recovery in the DRC. It is of a person who contracted the disease a few weeks ago and who, after appropriate management, no longer has any symptoms.

“The INRB has just confirmed the absence of the virus in the person,” Dr Longodo said, referring to the national biomedical research institute in Kinshasa.

GOOD NEWS

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The recovery of the patient, in a country that is yet to complete its cycle of the Ebola scourge, could be the best news so far, considering its feeble health system.

Earlier in the day, there had been strong suspicions that the South-East province of Haut-Katanga may have a case of coronavirus after two patients showed symptoms.

But Dr Longodo said tests on the patients turned out negative.

“The first two suspects in Lubumbashi do not have coronavirus disease. The INRB has just confirmed the absence of the virus in the two people.”

LOCKDOWN

The governor of Haut-Katanga had put the local capital city of Lubumbashi under lockdown on Monday as a way to prevent possible spread of the virus after two passengers aboard Congo Airways flight from Kinshasa exhibited what looked like coronavirus symptoms.

The flight had 77 people on board and authorities initially quarantined the two people as they looked for the remaining 75 who had been let go.

Authorities later announced they had quarantined 40 more.

PASSENGERS SCREENED

“Of the 75 passengers searched, 41 were found and screened. It turns out that one case was positive for the coronavirus. This brings the number of people affected by Covid-19 in Haut-Katanga to three,” said Haut-Katanga Governor Jacques Kyabula Katwe.

The governor’s assertions, however, were contradicted by the country’s Health minister.

With the confusion about statuses of the patients, Haut-Katanga remained under lockdown on Tuesday in what officials said will be to confirm the health status of the remaining 35 people.

“The restrictions, although relaxed, continues tomorrow in order to find the 34 other passengers of the Congo Airways flights from Kinshasa on Sunday afternoon.”