The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city, the World Health Organization said yesterday, fuelling 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.
But the UN's health agency confirmed that an Ebola case has been recorded in the city of Mbandaka, which lies roughly 150 kilometres from the Bikoro area where the outbreak originated.
"This is a concerning development," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
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.
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.