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Ebola outbreak threat rises as first urban case reported

An Ebola outbreak in a rural part of the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a major city for the first time, increasing the threat that the number of cases will surge, the World Health Organization reported on Thursday.

The current outbreak has killed at least 23 people since the first cases appeared in remote parts of northwestern Equateur Province in early April. One confirmed case now has been reported in the provincial capital of Mbandaka, a city of more than a million people.

WHO's emergency committee will meet on Friday to assess the threat. "The challenge will be to stop rapid, explosive expansion of the outbreak in Mbandaka," said Dr. Peter Salama, the agency's deputy director general and leader of its emergency response program.