WHO says Ebola outbreak has spread to DR Congo city

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In this handout photograph released by UNICEF on May 13, 2018, health workers wear protective equipment as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital – the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo – on May 12, 2018, which has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment. AFP PHOTO / UNICEF / MARK NAFTALIN

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city, the World Health Organization said Thursday, raising concern the deadly virus may prove tougher to contain.

“One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the UN’s health agency said in a statement.

The outbreak, publicly declared on May 8, had previously been reported in a rural area of Equateur that lies roughly 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Mbandaka.

“This is a concerning development,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.

The agency said it was deploying around 30 experts to Mbandaka “to conduct surveillance in the city.”

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.