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DR Congo confines, disinfects business district to fight virus

DR Congo confines, disinfects business district to fight virus

AFP
Kinshasa
Kinshasa on Monday closed off its upmarket business district for two weeks and began large-scale disinfection in a bid to root out DR Congo’s main suspected source of coronavirus.
Access to Gombe, which houses the country’s main institutions, banks and foreign embassies as well as upscale homes, was barricaded off to everyone except local residents and key workers, an AFP journalist saw.
“The choice of this district is linked to the fact that it’s from Gombe that the virus is spreading little by little to other districts,” the health authorities said in a daily statement.
“Massive disinfection of the offices and main buildings in Gombe district has been scheduled during this period. Once everything has been cleaned in Gombe, other areas will be targeted,” it said. On Thursday, Kinshasa Governor Gentiny Ngobila announced that Gombe, one of the capital’s 26 districts, would be “placed in quarantine” from April 6 to 20.
The district “is considered to be the epicentre of the epidemic in the city,” he said.
According to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s official figures, the sprawling country has recorded 161 cases of coronavirus, 18 of them fatal.
Almost all have occurred in the capital, with a handful of other cases in the volatile east. The central business district, home to 100,000 to 200,000 of Kinshasa’s 10 million people, has been dubbed “the Republic of Gombe” for its perceived status as an island of prosperity, a place set side from a city where poverty and dysfunction are rife. People waited patiently to get through the barricades, clutching passes issued by city hall.
“I waited more than two hours, but I’m not complaining, because this disease is very deadly,” said Jerome Lumosi, 35, who works at the National Institute of Biomedical Research -- the DRC’s scientific vanguard in the fight against coronavirus.

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