The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been declared a global emergency, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling for international support to stop its spread, NewScientist reports.
This is only the fifth event to be labelled a “public health emergency of international concern” by the organisation. The move follows the death of a pastor in Goma, a city of almost 2 million people that borders Rwanda and is a hub of international travel.
Experts convened by the WHO were concerned that this, alongside the virus spreading to new locations and flare-ups in areas where the outbreak was previously under control, could herald a growing epidemic.
Despite efforts to contain the outbreak over the past year, the crisis has grown and is now responsible for the deaths of around 1700 people, and another 2500 possible infections.
This is the second biggest Ebola outbreak on record, behind the outbreak in West Africa in 2014.
Critics have been calling on the WHO to declare it an international emergency since the beginning of the year, and Adam Kamradt-Scott at the University of Sydney, Australia, says the announcement is “long overdue”.