The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has entered a “new phase” after a case was confirmed in a city of 1.2 million people amid fears infections could rapidly spread.
A victim of the deadly virus was identified in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, 150km from a rural area where the outbreak was first detected earlier this month, DRC’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga said on Thursday.
The outbreak previously appeared to be confined to the Ikoko Impenge area, near the town of Bikoro, in the central African nation’s Equateur Province.
“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Ilunga said in a statement.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, 23 deaths in the DRC in recent weeks were linked to Ebola, which has no proven cure.
“We expect an increase in the number of cases confirmed in the coming days and weeks, so we are stepping up our intervention efforts because medical teams on the ground will need