Libreville - The death toll from an outbreak of Ebola in a remote part of Central Africa has reached 54 after several people who died in recent weeks were found to have had the disease, health officials said on Friday.
Gabon's health minister, Faustin Boukoubi, told state radio 42 people had now died in the northeast of the country around the town of Mekambo since the outbreak began late last year.
The World Health Organisation said in a statement on the minister's announcement that the new figure, increasing the toll in Gabon from the total of 23 announced last month, was due largely to positive tests carried out on people who had already died, not to new deaths.
Across the border in the Republic of Congo, 12 people have died out of 20 confirmed as infected with Ebola, the WHO said.
International medical workers have had a stormy time in the remote forested region, not least because they have told locals not to touch the bodies of victims of the disease, whereas local burial rites involve removing certain body parts.