- The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has spread to the city of Mbandaka
- The city's population is reportedly between 700,000 and 1.2 million
- Forty-four cases have been reported in the outbreak so far, including three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday, May 17, said the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city, fueling concern the deadly virus may prove tougher to contain.
The fresh outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, had previously been confined to a very remote, rural area in Equateur Province in the northwest of the country.
However, the UN's health agency confirmed on Thursday, May 17, that an Ebola case has been recorded in the city of Mbandaka, which lies roughly 150km from the Bikoro area where the outbreak originated, Aljazeera reports.
"This is a concerning development," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
NAIJ.com gathered that last week, a top WHO official warned that if the virus reached Mbandaka, the DRC could be confronted with yet another Ebola crisis.
The city's population has been variously estimated at between 700,000 and 1.2 million.
"If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak," the WHO's head of emergency response, Peter Salama, was quoted to have said last week.
The agency said on Thursday, May 17, that it was deploying around 30 experts to Mbandaka "to conduct surveillance in the city," including rapid efforts to trace all contacts of the new urban case.
Forty-four cases have been reported in the outbreak so far, including three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected, according to the WHO's tally.
NAIJ.com previously reported that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Tuesday, May 15, urged airlines, especially those operating international and regional flights into the country, to be vigilant and screen their passengers properly to avoid carrying passengers with Ebola.
This guideline, which was contained in a circular with ref number NCAA/DG/AMS/Vol.1/196, dated 11th May 2018, became imperative after fresh Ebola outbreak was recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The general manager, public relations of NCAA, stated in the circular that all airlines were informed of the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 8, 2018.
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