- Title: Congo health authorities stumble with first coronavirus case confusion
- Date: 14th March 2020
- Summary: KINSHASA, DRC (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STREET VENDOR, SERGINO, SELLING MASKS TO PASSERBY SERGINO WALKING AROUND SHOUTING (French) "1,500 (Franc CFA)! 1,500!" OFFERING MASKS FOR SALE TO PASSERBY AND MOTORIST MOTORCYCLE DRIVER LOOKING AT SERGINO SERGINO EXPLAINING TO MOTORCYCLE DRIVER DISCUSSING THE PRICE OF THE MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Lingala) STREET VENDOR SELLING MASKS, SERGINO, SAYING: "I'm selling masks because the coronavirus arrived in Kinshasa. When I started this morning I had a good quantity of masks but they have gone really fast. Now the place that I buy them from increased the price. So now it's 1500 FCFA instead of 500 FCFA." MAN WEARING MASK CROSSING THE STREET STUDENT, NEUFTHALIE, HAVING FACE MASK PUT ON BY HER FRIEND (SOUNDBITE) (Lingala) STUDENT, NEUFTHALIE, SAYING: "We wear these masks because we are afraid, because this disease is too dangerous. And it made its way to Kinshasa so we have to protect ourselves." SECURITY GUARD CHECKING TEMPERATURE OF KINSHASA RESIDENT NESTOR KALUNGANA KALUNGANA HAVING HIS TEMPERATURE CHECKED KINSHASA, DRC (MARCH 13, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR HOSPITAL AMITIE SINO-CONGOLAISE IN NDJILI NEIGHBOURHOOD WHERE THE FIRST CORONAVIRUS PATIENT IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN TAKEN FOR TREATMENT MAN WITH MASK LOOKING OUT OF THE WINDOW OF THE HOSPITAL HOSPITAL GATE (SOUNDBITE) (Lingala) MOTHER WHOSE SON WAS DUE TO HAVE AN OPERATION AT AMITIE HOSPITAL, CELINE MUKALYONGE, SAYING: "They were supposed to operate on my son last Tuesday and on Tuesday, the doctors told me they could not operate because the first case of coronavirus had arrived from Paris to be hospitalised here. I didn't believe what this doctor was telling me. Then on that same day at around 8 pm, other patients started leaving the hospital after hearing this news about coronavirus, that is when I realised it was serious, even the doctors stayed outside and didn't want to touch the patients. The government should have informed us well before. What are we now supposed to do with the sick people here at the hospital? Yesterday at 10 pm they brought another person here and we are forced to spend the night outside here without sick because we are scared."
- Keywords: Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo coronavirus doctors first case first patient hospitals masks
- Reuters ID: LVA001C50WTAF
- Location: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
- City: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
- Country: Congo, Democratic Republic of the
- Duration: 00:02:17
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
When Congo announced its first coronavirus case, all the details from the health ministry about the patient were wrong, drawing a rebuke from the president and highlighting the challenges the huge African country will face if the virus spreads.
A health ministry spokeswoman initially told reporters on Tuesday that the patient was Belgian, had been detected at the airport and was in quarantine in Kinshasa's Kinkole suburb.
The patient was, in fact, a Congolese citizen returning from France, had contacted the health services two days after his arrival in Congo and was quarantined in the N'djili neighbourhood, the ministry later said.
Concern over the virus caused doctors and patients at the hospital where the patient was quarantined to leave the facility.
Emmanuel Akangwa had an operation on his intestines and was scheduled for a second one at the hospital, but was told the doctors "would not work because they were scared."
"Look for yourself how I walk with my intestines hanging out.... we don't know how it will all end with this story of virus," he said.
Concerns about Africaâ€™s ability to cope with an outbreak which has spread across on the continent are magnified in a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a creaking health system, a deficit of trust in public institutions, decades of poor governance, corruption and conflict can offer fertile ground for rumour and speculation.
At a cabinet meeting on Friday, President Felix Tshisekedi said the health ministry had acted in an "appalling and mediocre" way, according to three ministers speaking on condition of anonymity.
Health Minister Eteni Longondo deplored "the panic that overcame the population following an inappropriate communication" but insisted authorities were ready to handle the outbreak, according to a summary of the meeting.
The ministry did not respond to a request for further comment.
(Production: Benoit Nyemba, Yvonne Bell, Fintan McDonnell)
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