Kinshasa fears spike in COVID-19 as 100 inmates infected
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The DR Congo government warned Tuesday of a “large-scale” spread of the COVID-19 pandemic after around 100 inmates of a military prison tested positive for the virus.
“Contamination at the prisons could be a vector of large-scale propagation in our society, especially if it involves the Makala prison because of its overcrowding,” according to the minutes of a cabinet meeting.
With the emergence of COVID-19 cases at the Ndolo military prison north of Kinshasa — where cases doubled to nearly 100 in two days — “the risk of a lightning-fast spread… cannot be ruled out,” said the minutes obtained by AFP.
According to the latest bulletin issued Tuesday by a health ministry team tackling the pandemic, 101 cases have now been discovered at Ndolo, of which 92 were described as “benign or light”.
Of the other nine, three patients have been hospitalised, the statement said.
So far no cases of COVID-19 have turned up at Makala, Kinshasa’s largest prison, which houses 8,484 detainees for a capacity estimated at 1,500.
The first case of the coronavirus infection in the central African country was registered on March 10.
Since then, 705 cases have been confirmed, with 34 deaths.
Infections arriving in the country from abroad have been halted, the bulletin said, adding: “The contaminations seen (since) have been local. The exponential increase that was so feared has not happened.”
It added that the country’s pandemic point man Jacques Muyembe had said that the isolation of Gombe, a section of the sprawling capital, had “given good results”.
Seven of the DRC’s 26 provinces have recorded cases of COVID-19, but the vast majority of infections (652) have occurred in Kinshasa, a city of 12 million people that also accounts for all the fatalities. (AFP)