The United States of America on Tuesday set out a warning- despite the coronavirus pandemic, the world "cannot afford to turn the other way" after cases of Ebola were confirmed in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Five people have died of the Ebola virus in Guinea, the first outbreak in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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"Ebola has again emerged, simultaneously, in both Central and West Africa," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement, vowing the US would work with affected governments and the World Health Organization.

"The world cannot afford to turn the other way. We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively," she added.

The virus, believed to reside in bats, was first identified in 1976 in Zaire, now DR Congo. The 2013-2016 epidemic began in Guinea in the same southeastern region where the new cases have been found.

Ebola is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk. The virus causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa, has begun an Ebola vaccination drive after four cases, two of them fatal, surfaced just three months after the country's last outbreak of the disease.