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Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak just reached a city of one million people

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Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak has reached a city, Health officials warned Wednesday, sparking fears the virus could spread explosively within its new urban environment.

Congo’s health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said the outbreak had entered a “new phase,” after the virus was confirmed in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, home to some 1.2 million people.

He said epidemiologists are scrambling to identify and track people who may have come into contact with suspected cases, ramping up population tracing through routes out of the city. Congo is also stepping up screening of people leaving the country, while 13 other nations have introduced similar border measures.

The outbreak, which has claimed 23 lives so far, was first detected earlier this month in a region 93 miles from Mbandaka.

Until now, all of the suspected cases have occurred in rural areas, where it is easier to isolate people who have come into contact with the virus. Ebola’s presence in a bustling city presents an entirely new challenge for authorities, who fear the city’s location on the Congo River — a busy trade route — ­means it could easily be transmitted elsewhere, including to the capital Kinshasa, a city of more than 9 million people, or to neighboring countries.

Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak has reached a city, Health officials warned Wednesday, sparking fears the virus could spread explosively within its new urban environment.

Congo’s health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said the outbreak had entered a “new phase,” after the virus was confirmed in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, home to some 1.2 million people.

He said epidemiologists are scrambling to identify and track people who may have come into contact with suspected cases, ramping up population tracing through routes out of the city. Congo is also stepping up screening of people leaving the country, while 13 other nations have introduced similar border measures.

The outbreak, which has claimed 23 lives so far, was first detected earlier this month in a region 93 miles from Mbandaka.

Until now, all of the suspected cases have occurred in rural areas, where it is easier to isolate people who have come into contact with the virus. Ebola’s presence in a bustling city presents an entirely new challenge for authorities, who fear the city’s location on the Congo River — a busy trade route — ­means it could easily be transmitted elsewhere, including to the capital Kinshasa,

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https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/vbqexx/congos-deadly-ebola-outbreak-city-mbandaka

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