At least 17 people have died in an area of northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where health officials confirmed an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
Congo’s ministry of health said in a statement on Tuesday that two cases of the virus have been confirmed by laboratory tests following 21 patients displaying signs of hemorrhagic fever in Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, in the central African nation.
Health officials took samples from five suspected Ebola cases in Bikoro, in Equateur Province, to be tested at the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale in the capital, Kinshasa, it added.
At least 17 deaths in the region over the past five weeks are suspected to be linked to the outbreak, but have not been confirmed as Ebola cases.
“Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency,” Congo’s health ministry said.
The deployment of “well-trained human resources” was made to “rapidly control” the outbreak, it said.
Ebola, which has no proven cure, killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2013-16 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.