Ebola outbreak in Congo declared a global health emergency

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In this photograph taken Sunday July 14, 2019, an Ebola victim is put to rest at the Muslim cemetery in Beni, Congo DRC. The head of the World Health Organization is convening a meeting of experts Wednesday July 17, 2019 to decide whether the Ebola outbreak should be declared an international emergency after spreading to eastern Congo’s biggest city, Goma, this week. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

GENEVA (AP) – The World Health Organization says the deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency after the virus spread this week to a city of 2 million people.

A WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration, but other experts say the outbreak has long met the conditions.

More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which is unfolding in a region described as a war zone.

This week the first Ebola case was confirmed in Goma, a major regional crossroads on the Rwandan border with an international airport. Experts have feared this for months.

A declaration of a global health emergency often brings greater international attention and aid.

This is the fifth such declaration in history. Previous emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the emergence of Zika in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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