Nobel peace prize laureate Denis Mukwege on Saturday called for coronavirus testing to be made available in eastern DR Congo, where he is coordinating the response to the pandemic.
“We solemnly request an emergency supply of these tests before the curve of the epidemic becomes exponential,” Mukwege told a joint news conference with the governor of South Kivu province, Theo Ngwabidje.
Mukwege, a gynaecologist, said on Saturday that while it had been possible to contain the coronavirus in South Kivu so far, it would be unwise “to fall into blind triumphalism.
“The threat is present and our province remains vulnerable,” he added.
Heath officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo have already warned that COVID-19 could spread exponentially through the country in the first two weeks of May.
Mukwege was the joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.
He is coordinating the fight against the coronavirus in the east of DR Congo, where it borders — from north to south — South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Health officials say there have been four coronavirus cases in South Kivu so far, all of whom recovered.
DR Congo registered its first virus case on March 10. That number has since risen to 937, including 39 fatalities.
Most of the cases identified — 884 of them — and all of the deaths so far have been in the capital, Kinshasa.
On Tuesday, the government said around 100 inmates of Makala military prison north of the capital Kinshasa in the west of the country had tested positive for the virus.