DRC’s first coronavirus patient to leave hospital ‘soon’ as new cases rise

Saturday March 21 2020

coronavirus

A medical staff member holds samples from patients infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus before nucleic acid test on March 10, 2020. PHOTO | AFP 

PATRICK ILUNGA
By PATRICK ILUNGA
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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s infection toll for coronavirus (covid-19) rose by five cases on Saturday even as officials announced the first reported case may soon leave hospital.
The country’s numbers hit 22 after five more people tested positive. All were quarantined after tests confirmed their situation.

Health Minister Eteni Longodo, however, indicated that the country’s first patient may soon leave hospital after his condition improved over the last one week.

“The man has already undergone the first tests which have turned out to be negative. There remains one final test to be concluded,” said Eteni Longondo.

Earlier, reports swirled in local media in Kinshasa of the first reported death from coronavirus. Officials, however did not confirm it and The EastAfrican could not independently verify the claims.

But the death, if any, could add to DRC’s challenge of the coronavirus after five new cases were confirmed.

Minister for Health, Dr Eteni Long’odo, said all the new five cases were Congolese nationals who had all been quarantined after the tests returned positive.

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The country was thrown in a spin last week after Ecomonic Affairs Minister Acacia Bandubola Mbongo tested positive for coronavirus. Her husband too was infected, days after the Minister returned from an official trip from France.

In the wake of the revelations, President Felix Tshisekedi directed his cabinet members to take tests.

He also shut down schools, restaurants, clubs and bars as well as suspended international flights to and from what he called regions with high numbers of the virus.

The report of the death adds a burden to a country still emerging from the Ebola scourge. Two weeks ago, the last patient walked out of hospital, 19 months since the outbreak emerged in the country. But Kinshasa will have to wait for 40 days, at least, to have the outbreak declared over.

On Saturday, Dr Longodo called on the Congolese to comply with the measures taken by the Head of State.

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