Rwanda reopened its frontier with DR Congo on Thursday after closing it for eight hours following a new case of Ebola in the Congolese border city of Goma, Kinshasa said.
“Traffic between Goma and (the neighbouring Rwandan city) of Gisenyi resumed on Thursday afternoon after being closed in the morning without explanation,” a statement from the Congolese presidency said.
“The border has been reopened and people can move in both directions,” the statement said.
Fears that Ebola could spread into neighbouring countries have mounted since mid-July, when the disease claimed its first fatality in Goma, a city of two million people that lies adjacent to Gisenyi, a city of more than 85,000.
Close ties have developed between the two cities. Many people have jobs on the other side of the border while others have homes or put their children in schools in the neighbouring city.
Earlier Thursday, President Felix Tshisekedi’s office had said Rwanda had made a “unilateral decision” to close the border after a third case of Ebola had been detected in Goma.
It said the decision had been taken despite recommendations by the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) that borders should be kept open in such circumstances to help control and transparency.
In AFP reporter in Goma and a resident in Gisenyi each confirmed in mid-morning that the frontier had been closed, while a Rwandan government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “it is closed”, without giving further details.
But the Rwandan health ministry later said the border had never been closed.
There had only been a “traffic slowdown… as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures and public safety at entry points,” it said in a statement.
Health Minister Diane Gashumba told journalists, “I talked with my counterpart the DRC minister of health and clarified that the border is open and should remain open.”
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