The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo a public health emergency of international concern.
The WHO made the declaration yesterday following a meeting of its emergency committee in the Geneva. The UN health agency made the announcement days after the virus was confirmed in Goma, a major regional crossroads in northeastern Congo on the Rwandan border.
In a statement, WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, it was time for the world to take notice of the epidemic and called for a redoubling of efforts to battle it back.
A WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, even though other experts say it 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 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.