Category Archives: Class

EbolaWatch: Quarantines, panic, pols, & Africa


We begin with root causes, starting with this from the Guardian:

Ebola is a product of a destructive and exploitative global economic system

Deforestation and increasing demands on habitats to produce food don’t just wreck the environment, they are increasing the risk of global pandemics like Ebola

Like a sleepwalker roused from his dream, the world is slowly waking up to the full nightmare of the Ebola outbreak decimating west Africa. With small numbers of cases turning up in western countries, governments here are belatedly pledging action to fight the disease, which has already claimed almost 5,000 lives.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all countries struggling to recover from wars still fresh in the memory – have buckled under the onslaught of this horrific virus. Inadequate, creaking health services have been no match for a ruthless killer. But while the shocking poverty of these countries provides the fertile ground for the disease to spread, there are bigger issues at play that ought to cause us to think about the macroeconomic conditions that brought us to this point.

Ebola – like HIV, anthrax, Sars, avian flu and other pandemics of recent years – is a zoonotic virus, one that has crossed from animals to humans. It was first identified in 1976 during near-simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The strain of Ebola implicated in the current outbreak is thought to have originated from a mutant pathogen found in fruit bats. This is where we see a direct connection with economic development. The conflicts which have done so much damage to the affected countries have also attracted a range of activities – both legal and illicit – including logging and extractive industries like bauxite mining, which have deforested large swathes of the region.

More from The Ecologist:

Oil palm explosion driving West Africa’s Ebola outbreak

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes – in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a ‘perfect storm’ of disease.

It is poverty that drives villagers to encroach further into the forest, where they become infected with the virus when hunting and butchering wildlife, or through contact with body fluids from bats – this has been seen with Nipah, another dangerous virus associated with bats.

The likelihood of infection in this manner is compounded by inadequate rural health facilities and poor village infrastructure, compounded by the disorganised urban sprawl at the fringes of cities.

The virus then spreads in a wave of fear and panic, ill-conceived intervention and logistical failures – including even insufficient food or beds for the severely ill.

Take for example the global palm oil industry, where a similar trend of deep-cutting into forests for agricultural development has breached natural barriers to the evolution and spread of specific pathogens.

The effects of land grabs and the focus on certain fruit crop species leads to an Allee effect, where sudden changes in one ecological element causes the mechanisms for keeping populations – bats in this case – and viruses in equilibrium to shift, increasing the probability of spill over to alternative hosts.

Next, some possibly good news from the Guardian:

Ebola may have reached turning point, says Wellcome Trust director

  • Dr Jeremy Farrar says international community is belatedly taking the actions necessary to stem the tide of the disease

Writing in the Guardian, Dr Jeremy Farrar says that although there are several bleak months ahead, “it is finally becoming possible to see some light. In the past 10 days, the international community has belatedly begun to take the actions necessary to start turning Ebola’s tide.

“The progress made is preliminary and uncertain; even if ultimately successful it will not reduce mortality or stop transmission for some time. We are not close to seeing the beginning of the end of the epidemic but [several] developments offer hope that we may have reached the end of the beginning.”

Farrar’s comments come as the World Health Organisation confirmed that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia has started to decline, with fewer burials and some empty hospital beds. But the WHO warned against any assumption that the outbreak there was ending.

“I’m terrified that the information will be misinterpreted,” said Dr Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general in charge of the Ebola operational response. “This is like saying your pet tiger is under control. This is a very, very dangerous disease. Any transmission change could result in many, many more deaths.”

Science qualifies the optimism:

Liberia’s Ebola progress real, but epidemic far from under control

The apparent decline in cases could mean that  families are hiding patients and secretly burying the dead, but it is more likely that a combination of factors has reduced the spread of the disease, said Aylward. “There was a rapid scale up in safe burial practices in the month of September,” he said, adding that many people were isolated in Ebola treatment units, further curbing spread. There also has been intensive education of communities about the disease, including how it is spread, the value of seeking care, and self-protection strategies.

The situations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the other two hard-hit countries, have not changed as dramatically.

In a disconnect with the drop of cases in Liberia, Aylward noted that WHO has tallied 13,703 cases—a jump of more than 3000 from the figures released 25 October. He said the steep increase reflects reporting on a backlog of cases “With the huge surge in cases in certain countries, particularly in September and October, people got behind on their data,” he said. “They ended up with huge piles of paper and we knew we were going to see jumps in cases at certain times that are going to be associated with more new data coming in that are actually old cases.” He said about 2000 of the latest cases came from old data collected in Liberia, where reporting of cases continues to be a problem. “Data for Liberia are missing for 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27 October,” the latest update from WHO notes.

And from Liberia itself, another caution via The NewDawn:

Ellen warns against early excitement – Chinese military team arrives

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned against early jubilation over news of reduction in the infection across the country with news of less than 400 cases nationwide.

The Liberian leader is cautioned citizens and residents against a repeat of a scenario in March this year when people got “too happy too soon” over decline in Ebola infection, thereby giving room for the virus to resurface by June when preventive measures were largely downplayed.

“Yes we feel good, but we want to be cautious. We don’t want people to get happy too soon; we got to continue this fight, and we got to continue it with everything that we got,” President Sirleaf said Tuesday in Monrovia when she received an advance Chinese military delegation of 15 personnel to build ETUs here.

Judging from previous scenario, she warned, “This time we want to be careful, we’ll not be satisfied until we are declared that the last Ebola victim has been cured and is freed of this disease.” President Sirleaf’s warning comes as government prepares to conduct a mid-term election for 15 senators in December.

A video report from euronews:

Ebola: WHO announces ‘slowing rate of new cases’

Program notes:

Liberia may be experiencing a slowdown in the rate of new cases of the deadly Ebola virus according to the World Health Organization.

“We are seeing a slowing rate of new cases, very definitely,” WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward announced.

The African country has reportedly seen a drop in burials and new hospital admissions, while the number of laboratory-confirmed cases has levelled out.

While the Associated Press adds more nuance:

Top UN Ebola official: new cases poorly tracked

Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.’s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday.

“The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it’s spreading and where we need to target our resources,” Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, is based.

Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health care workers can’t do that if they don’t know where new cases are emerging.

“And unfortunately, we don’t have good data from a lot of areas. We don’t know exactly what is happening,” said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.

Meanwhile, the crisis remains both critical and costly. From Sky News:

Ebola: DEC Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Appeal

The charity group asks the public for money to halt the “explosive” virus – the first time it has done so for a disease outbreak.

The Disasters Emergency Committee is to launch a major television appeal over the Ebola crisis, the first time it has called for donations in response to a disease.

The committee, which is made up of 13 of the UK’s major aid charities, said it took the decision because the killer virus threatens to become a “catastrophe”.

The DEC described the spread of the virus as “explosive”, and said it was devastating communities, health services and people’s ability to support themselves.

Next, California joins the list of states with Ebola quarantine policies, via the San Jose Mercury News:

Ebola: California is latest state to impose 21-day quarantine for those exposed to Ebola

California on Wednesday became the latest state to order a 21-day quarantine for travelers who have been in close contact with Ebola patients.

In an attempt to avoid the criticism lodged against New York, New Jersey and Maine that had blanket quarantine orders, however, California will allow county health agencies to impose the quarantine on a case-by-case basis.

By working with county health departments to assess the individual risks, the California Department of Public Health said it “respects the individual circumstances of each traveler while protecting and preserving the public health.”

And a case at hand, via KCBS in San Francisco:

Stanford Surgeon Under ‘Modified Quarantine’ In San Mateo County After Returning From Liberia

A Stanford surgeon has been put on modified quarantine in San Mateo County after treating Ebola patients in Liberia for the past month.

Dr. Colin Bucks returned to the Bay Area on Friday, but no state or federal quarantine orders were in place at the time. Dr. Bucks is not experiencing any symptoms of Ebola, but he is the first Californian to be quarantined under the new guidelines. Bucks is considered by health officials to be at “some risk.”

The doctor contacted San Mateo County health officials. After consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the California Dept. of Public Health, Dr. Bucks was told to stay away from work and to stay away from others for 21 days. However, he can leave his house to go jogging by himself. He is taking his temperature every day and has not developed any symptoms.

Politics of pain, via the Los Angeles Times:

Obama urges Americans to honor aid workers fighting Ebola in Africa

President Obama on Tuesday urged Americans to set aside their fears of the Ebola virus and make sure U.S. healthcare workers who go to West Africa are “applauded, thanked and supported” when they return home.

If those workers are successful in fighting the virus at the source of the outbreak, he said, “we don’t have to worry about it here.”

“They are doing God’s work over there,” Obama said, “and they are doing that to keep us safe.”

And a fundamental lack from the Associated Press:

Funding to tame an Ebola outbreak has fallen short

“We don’t really have a pharmaceutical response for Ebola,” said retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen, the former executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction. “But could you imagine if there were 20,000 sick people in 10 cities and we did not have a pharmaceutical response? We would be completely overwhelmed.”

Emergency preparedness programs ramped up significantly in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax scare, said Dr. Gerald Parker, a former principal deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Health and Human Services preparedness office. Those efforts included research and development of vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

“It was recognized that there would be a dual benefit from research on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to counter bioterror threats and emerging infectious diseases,” said Parker, now a vice president at Texas A&M Health Science Center.

But a combination of budgetary constraints and politics has delayed many of those plans.

Other quarantine news from the New York Times:

New York State Ebola Policy Allows for In-Home Quarantine

Offering the first detailed account of how New York State’s quarantine order for health care workers returning from West Africa will be put into effect, the Cuomo administration has issued guidelines that go beyond federal recommendations but seek to allow individuals to spend their enforced isolation in a location of their choosing.

The state documents, copies of which were obtained by The New York Times, show an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration to portray the quarantine in a humane manner.

The protocols are meant to ensure “a respectful and supportive approach” to arriving travelers, who are supposed to be “treated with the utmost respect and concern,” according to a document prepared by the State Health Department that outlines the screening procedures.

While the Guardian covers a controversy:

Ebola: Maine deploys state police to quarantined nurse’s home

  • Kaci Hickox, who was held for days in an isolation tent in New Jersey, says she doesn’t plan on obeying home quarantine in her home state

A nurse freed from an Ebola isolation tent in a New Jersey hospital declared on Wednesday the she will not comply with a quarantine request imposed by state officials, saying the policy is not based on science and infringes on her civil liberties.

“I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines,” nurse Kaci Hickox told the Today show from her home in Maine. “I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom-free.”

The governor’s office said in a statement that Maine state police would monitor Kickox’s home “for both her protection and the health of the community”. A TV reporter with the local WLBZ news channel said as of 1pm ET on Wednesday at least two police cars were parked out front of the home.

More from the Washington Post:

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is seeking legal authority to enforce Ebola quarantine on nurse

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is looking for ways to force a nurse released from mandatory Ebola isolation in New Jersey to abide by a similar 21-day quarantine in Maine.

“The Office of the Governor has been working collaboratively with the State health officials within the Department of Health and Human Services to seek legal authority to enforce the quarantine,” LePage’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “We hoped that the health-care worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols.”

Still more from the Guardian:

Maine prepared to go to court to enforce nurse’s Ebola quarantine order

  • Officials plead with Kaci Hickox to abide by 21-day order
  • ‘I have been this entire time completely symptom-free’

Maine’s top public health official has said the state will if necessary seek a court order to ensure a nurse stays quarantined in her home after returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of the state department of health and human services, pleaded with Hickox to abide by the state’s 21-day at-home quarantine order.

“We do not want to legally enforce an in-home quarantine unless absolutely necessary,” Mayhew said on Wednesday afternoon.

More quarantine politics from Reuters:

Obama sees different Ebola rules for U.S. military than for civilians

President Barack Obama on Tuesday appeared to back more rigorous procedures for dealing with soldiers returning from missions to Ebola-hit West African countries, even as he criticized moves by some U.S. states to quarantine returning civilian health workers.

Obama said that American military personnel were in a “different situation” compared with healthcare workers. While civilians may be discouraged from volunteering to help fight the Ebola if they are facing quarantine on their return, troops were sent as part of their mission and could expect such inconveniences.

“They are already by definition if they are in the military under more circumscribed conditions,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We don’t expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for civilians.”

More from USA Today:

Quarantine ordered for troops returning from W. Africa

U.S. troops returning from Ebola-stricken nations will be isolated for 21 days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday, a day after the White House raised concerns about states imposing strict quarantines of health care workers returning from West Africa.

Top commanders for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps made the recommendation to Hagel on Tuesday. The Army instituted an isolation requirement for 21 days — the incubation period for the deadly virus — on Monday.

Hagel directed the isolation policy be reviewed in 45 days to see whether it was necessary to continue with it, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary.

Still more from the Guardian:

Conflicting Ebola guidelines put US defense secretary in a tough spot

  • Hagel’s choice on quarantining troops returning from west Africa involves rebuking either government scientists or military leaders

The Ebola outbreak has placed the US secretary of defense on the horns of a dilemma: whether to back the military service chiefs about a quarantine for troops or to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends no such thing.

Defense chief Chuck Hagel has received a recommendation for a “quarantine-like program” for all US servicemembers returning from Liberia and Senegal, where they are supporting civilian efforts to contain the disease, Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Tuesday.

The recommendation, made by the heads of the military services, would expand across the military a directive made on Monday from the army chief, General Raymond Odierno, to keep soldiers returning from Operation United Assistance in Liberia and Senegal under a 21-day period of “controlled monitoring”.

Kirby said Hagel has yet to make a decision, having received the quarantine recommendation earlier on Tuesday. But imposing a broader military quarantine for returning servicemembers goes beyond new guidance set on Monday by the CDC, which urged a home quarantine only for high-risk individuals, such as those whose body fluids have been directly exposed to Ebola. US troops have not been involved in treating Ebola patients.

And yet more from Reuters:

US isolates troops

The U.S. military has started isolating soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission in West Africa and Australia became the first rich nation to impose a visa ban on the affected countries amid global anxiety about the spread of the virus.

The latest measures, along with decisions by some U.S. states to impose mandatory quarantines on health workers returning home from treating Ebola victims in West Africa, have been condemned by health authorities and the United Nations as extreme.

The top health official in charge of dealing with Washington’s response to Ebola warned against turning doctors and nurses who travel to West Africa to tackle Ebola into “pariahs”.

From Reuters, intranational man of mystery:

In Ebola response, Obama’s ‘czar’ stays behind the curtain

It’s not often that a White House official gets mocked on both Saturday Night Live and a major daily newspaper before he makes his first public appearance.

But Ron Klain’s low-profile first week as President Barack Obama’s behind-the-scenes Ebola “czar” has become another attack point for a White House struggling to show it’s on top of the crisis.

Since starting last Wednesday, Klain has been seen only once, in a photo op on his first day, leaving health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health – and Obama himself – to be the public “face” of the response.

The White House has declined to give details about his activities, especially what role he played as governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey undermined the White House’s attempt to keep the nation calm about the risk posed by healthcare workers returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa.

More predictable politics from the Associated Press:

Jeb Bush: Obama handling of Ebola ‘incompetent’

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama’s initial handling of the Ebola crisis as “incompetent,” saying it gave rise to unneeded fears among the American public about the virus.

Bush, who is the latest potential Republican presidential candidate to attack the president over Ebola, also said in a wide-ranging discussion at Vanderbilt University that he supports travel restrictions for people who have been to the most severely affected countries in Africa.

Bush said Obama should have been more “clear and concise” about his plans, and lent more credibility to health officials leading the response.

“It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be justified,” Bush said. “And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration made a notable symbolic move sure to piss off some of Bush’s former Florida constituents, via the Associated Press:

US sends health official to Cuban Ebola meeting

The United States has sent a health official to a Cuban meeting on coordinating Latin America’s response to Ebola. The participation of the Centers for Disease Control’s Central America director is the most concrete sign to date of the two nations’ expressed desire to cooperate against the disease.

The two-day meeting that began Tuesday in Havana is sponsored by ALBA, a forum of left-leaning Latin countries founded by Cuba and Venezuela as a counterweight to U.S. influence in the region.

Cuba is sending at least 256 medical workers to West Africa to treat and prevent Ebola. The World Health Organization says it’s the largest contribution by a single government, although there may be more doctors of other nationalities who are sent by non-governmental organizations.

The U.S. has welcomed Cuba’s response.

Ebolaphobia from the New York Times:

Connecticut Child Barred From School After Trip to Africa; Father Sues

The father of a Connecticut third grader filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, saying his daughter has been unfairly barred from school amid fears she may have been exposed to the Ebola virus while in Africa.

The daughter, Ikeoluwa Opayemi, and her family, who live in Milford, visited Nigeria for a wedding from Oct. 2 to 13, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Federal District Court in New Haven.

When the girl tried to return to the Meadowside Elementary School, she was told by the school district’s health director that she would have to stay home until Nov. 3 “due to concern from certain parents and teachers that she could transmit Ebola to other children,” according to the lawsuit.

More from Ebolaphobics from Science:

Been to an Ebola-affected country? Stay away from tropical medicine meeting, Louisiana says

Ebola fears are interfering with the world’s premier scientific meeting on tropical diseases. Today, Louisiana state health officials asked anyone who has traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea in the past 21 days, or has treated Ebola patients elsewhere, to stay away from the annual meeting of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), which begins on Sunday in New Orleans.

ASTMH doesn’t know exactly how many scientists will be affected, but there are several, says incoming president Christopher Plowe, including representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “They are quite disappointed,” says Plowe, a malaria researcher at the University of Maryland. ASTMH sent all meeting registrants an email today containing a letter from Kathy Kliebert, secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health & Hospitals, and Kevin Davis, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, that outlines the state’s position. ASTMH referred registrants to the state’s health department for further information.

“Given that conference participants with a travel and exposure history for [Ebola] are recommended not to participate in large group settings (such as this conference) or to utilize public transport, we see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans to simply be confined to your room,” the letter says.

After the jump, an infectious lie, a sole supplier, North Korean Ebolaphobia, Hong Kong preparedness, fast-tracking a vaccine, anger at Aussie exclusion, Japanese angst leads to a task force, then on to Africa and vigilance in the newest addition to the ranks of the stricken while a border remains open, a study of who survive in Sierra Leone, Tokyo lends mobile assistance, Brits train “Ebola warriors,” missing funds, and survivors are shunned, then on to Liberia and the crisis personified, the healthcare worker’s painful conundrum, another blow to overstretched police resources, long overdue pay for healthcare workers, a cultural belief hampering prevention efforts with specific voices heard, Christian leaders call a three-day fast, a Christian tradition invoked, a change in command of American boots on the ground, and a presidential birthday is deferred, thence to Nigeria and an unanticipated arrival, followed by a precipitous tourism decline in Kenya. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Bankster greed, harming kids


From a sobering new report from UNICEF, Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries [PDF]. Click on the image to enlarge:

BLOG Eurokids

Chart of the day: Playing with a stacked deck


From Demos:

BLOG Wealth

EbolaWatch: Fears, pols, profits, and Africa


And after the jump, there’s an extensive compendium of reports from African news media covering the crisis day-to-day.

First, a warning from South China Morning Post:

Ebola outbreak will hit China, virus pioneer Peter Piot warns

  • Number of workers in Africa raises threat, says Peter Piot, who also dismisses HK screening

One of the scientists who discovered Ebola has warned that China is under threat from the deadly virus because of the huge number of Chinese workers in Africa.

Professor Peter Piot also made the grim prediction that Ebola would claim thousands more lives in the months ahead.

“It will get worse for a while, and then hopefully it will get better when people are isolated,” said Piot, who is in Hong Kong for a two-day symposium. “What we see now is every 30 days there is a doubling of new infections.” He estimated the epidemic would last another six to 12 months.

“In Africa, there are many Chinese working there. So that could be a risk for China in general, and I assume that one day [an outbreak of Ebola in China] will happen,” said Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

More from the New York Times:

As Ebola Spreads, Asia Senses Vulnerability

“What happened in the [United] States took us by surprise,” said Louis Shih, the president of the Hong Kong Medical Association. “We were sort of feeling like, ‘Oh, don’t worry’ — the medical sector is now quite alarmed.”

An analysis published online last week by The Lancet, a medical journal, reviewed International Air Transport Association data for flights from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 this year, as well as data from 2013, out of the three countries in West Africa with the biggest outbreaks of Ebola virus: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It found that six of the top nine estimated destinations for travelers from these countries were elsewhere in Africa. The others were in Europe: Britain, France and Belgium.

But the 10th-largest destination was China. India was 13th. (Mali, a West African country that reported its first Ebola death on Friday, was 11th, and the United States was 12th.)

And another warning from the NewDawn in Monrovia, Liberia:

Ebola’s Next Frontier

Which countries, beyond those in West Africa, are most susceptible to the Ebola epidemic? Most epidemiologists do not fear much for the developed world, with its effective quarantine measures and tracking procedures, or even for sparsely populated developing countries. An outbreak could easily be contained in both groups of countries. But large, densely populated areas, lacking the proper containment mechanisms are highly vulnerable.

India, with its large emigrant population (the second largest in the world), high urban density, and inadequate public health-care infrastructure, potentially has the most to lose if the Ebola virus spreads. Links to West Africa are close and go back over the last century, with almost 50,000 Indians or people of Indian origin living in the region.

Indeed, scores of people fly between Accra, Lagos, Freetown, Monrovia, or Abidjan and New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, or Chennai on a daily basis, transiting through the Middle East or Europe. While exit controls are in place in all of the international airports in the affected regions, the virus’s incubation period (which averages eight days in the current outbreak but can be up to 21 days) means that someone with no symptoms from a recent infection could make the trip to India without triggering alarms.

The Los Angeles Times has the domestic scare de jour:

Child is being tested for Ebola in New York; mother in quarantine

A child who had recently been in the Ebola-affected nation of Guinea took ill in New York City on Sunday night and is being isolated at a hospital, health officials said Monday.

The child was being tested for Ebola, and results were expected by the afternoon, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement.

The patient was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and did not have a fever when first examined there but developed one around 7 a.m., the department said.

The child’s mother is being quarantined at Bellevue and has “no symptoms whatsoever,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Monday news conference.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers the denouement:

New York 5-year-old tested negative for Ebola

An unidentified minor who recently arrived in the United States from West Africa and was placed in isolation over concerns that he might have contracted Ebola tested negative for the virus Monday, New York City health officials said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, further negative Ebola tests are required on subsequent days to ensure that the patient is cleared,” according to a statement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The patient will also be tested for common respiratory viruses. The patient will remain in isolation until all test results have returned.”

Once positive, now negative, via the Los Angeles Times:

Nurse quarantined in New Jersey tests negative for Ebola, can go home

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that a nurse who was quarantined in Newark after returning from treating Ebola-afflicted people in West Africa would be released and allowed to go home after she tested negative.

Christie’s move followed a barrage of criticism from civil rights groups, aid agencies and White House officials, who said the quarantine measures announced Friday would discourage much-needed medical personnel from going to fight the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Nurse Kaci Hickox complained that she was put in an unheated tent on the grounds of Newark University Hospital after returning from Sierra Leone on Friday. She tested negative for Ebola, which has a 21-day incubation period.

In a statement Monday from New Jersey’s department of health, officials said Hickox “has thankfully been symptom free for the past 24 hours.”

Reuters coveys a plea:

Don’t let quarantine hysteria deter Ebola health workers: U.N.

Governments must not deter health workers from coming to West Africa to fight Ebola and quarantine decisions should not be based on hysteria, the head of the U.N. mission battling the virus said on Monday.

The U.S. states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois have issued new quarantine rules for people returning from West Africa in response to fears that U.S. federal guidelines do not go far enough to contain an outbreak centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that has infected 10,000 people.

Some groups have challenged the rules as too extreme and a nurse who was quarantined after returning from Sierra Leone criticised her isolation on Sunday saying she posed no health threat.

“Anything that will dissuade foreign trained personnel from coming here to West Africa and joining us on the frontline to fight the fight would be very, very unfortunate,” Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Ebola Emergency Response Mission (UNMEER), told Reuters.

More from The Hill:

CDC wants tight restrictions on only high-risk Ebola workers

The Obama administration is pushing back against several states’ quarantine policies for Ebola health workers, unveiling new restrictions Monday that apply only to “high-risk” individuals returning from West Africa.

The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stop far short of 21-day quarantines imposed by several states that have been heavily criticized by public health experts and the Obama administration.

Only individuals known to have direct exposure to the disease, such as a family member who cared for an Ebola patient without protective gear, are told to remain home under the new recommendations.

Surveillance from Reuters:

Virginia to boost Ebola monitoring, state health official says

Virginia will boost Ebola monitoring for travelers arriving from the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, state Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine said on Monday.

All travelers will be assessed for Ebola and for their health status, Levine said on a conference call. They will be required to sign an agreement to follow health care steps such as taking temperatures, she said

From Reuters, a story about one prominent political figure willing to abide by any quarantines in effect on her return to the U.S. from the hot zone:

Samantha Power will “abide” by quarantine requirements – State Dept.

Program notes:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power is not expected to visit any Ebola treatment centers during her trip to West Africa but will abide by any relevant quarantine requirements, the State Department says

Another quarantine development from Reuters:

U.S. isolates soldiers after Ebola response mission in West Africa

The U.S. Army has started isolating soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission in West Africa, even though they showed no symptoms of infection and were not believed to have been exposed to the deadly virus, officials said on Monday.

The decision goes well beyond previously established military protocols and came just as President Barack Obama’s administration sought to discourage precautionary quarantines being imposed by some U.S. states on healthcare workers returning from countries battling Ebola.

The Army has already isolated about a dozen soldiers upon their return this weekend to their home base in Vicenza, Italy. That includes Major General Darryl Williams, the commander of U.S. Army Africa, who oversaw the military’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Another front-line contingent from the New York Times:

For New York Crew, Fighting Ebola With Brush and Cleanser

Around the time New Yorkers started fretting over the city’s first diagnosis of Ebola last Thursday, Sal Pain began drawing up plans for four decontamination chambers, customized for a cramped Harlem hallway.

The narrow dimensions of the hallway — it was only four feet wide — outside the fifth-floor apartment Dr. Craig Spencer, the Ebola patient, shares with his fiancée was among the more difficult situations confronted by hazardous-materials workers in their efforts to contain the Ebola virus. The standard decontamination station, a bulging, inflatable unit, would not do.

So Mr. Pain, the chief safety officer for Bio-Recovery Corporation, which has cleaned Dr. Spencer’s apartment and the Gutter, a bowling alley Dr. Spencer had visited in Brooklyn, improvised. He lined the hallway walls with 6 millimeters of plastic on Friday morning, and then made a frame out of PVC pipe. About 12 hours later, after sterilizing everything from four bicycles to a cuticle cutter, the 10-member crew stood in the hallway and washed themselves with chemical and water showers.

Scapegoating from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Anguished and afraid, West Africans in U.S. stay clear of new arrivals

Charlotte, N.C., merchant Tonieh Ross says her heart cries for the orphaned children back home in Liberia who aren’t getting the hugs they so need, for fear of the deadly Ebola virus.

Ross, the owner of the Virtuous D Boutique, also frets about her younger sister in Monrovia, Eugenia, whose paycheck disappeared when her employer shuttered his business and left the disease-ravaged country. Now Eugenia is among some 20 desperate Liberians, mostly children, phoning Ross “over and over and over until something happens” – that is, until she or her friends send money or food, she said.

“I have given everything just to be available and help my country,” Ross said.

While Ross and other West Africans living in cities across America are traumatized by images of suddenly orphaned kids or children lying ill in the streets in their native lands, they also live in fear themselves.

They know they may be among U.S. residents facing the greatest risk of exposure to the deadly disease. Visitors and immigrants from Ebola-stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea are likely to first visit or live among their friends and relatives, just as Thomas Eric Duncan planned to do when he flew to Dallas before taking ill with Ebola, infecting two nurses. He died Oct 8.

More from BuzzFeed:

Two Senegalese Boys Got Beat Up And Called “Ebola” In New York City

Local lawmakers called the attack a “hate crime” and warned of a “bullying crisis” stemming from misinformation about the Ebola virus. Members of New York City’s West African community complained that people are avoiding their businesses for fear of contracting the disease.

Two Senegalese-American middle school students were taken to the hospital on Friday after suffering a beating at the hands of their classmates, in an attack apparently motivated by fear of the Ebola virus that local lawmakers called a “hate crime.”

The attack took place at Intermediate School 318 in the Bronx, where the students — brothers Abdou and Amedou Drame — are enrolled in the eighth and sixth grades. The students recently arrived to the United States from Senegal. Both of the boys suffered minor injuries and were released from the hospital later on Friday.

Speaking at a Monday press conference at the Harlem headquarters of the Association of Senegalese in America, Rep. José Serrano and State Sen. Bill Perkins called the attack a “hate crime” and warned of rising discrimination and xenophobia against West Africans in the wake of the Ebola epidemic.

From the Associated Press, a very important question:

Could more have been done for Thomas Eric Duncan?

Dr. Thomas Geisbert, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said he had trouble understanding why four days elapsed between Duncan’s confirmed test results on Sept. 30 and his first treatment. And he was surprised by the choice of experimental drug given to Duncan.

“The guys who do what I do, working in this field, find it puzzling,” said Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology who has been studying Ebola since the early 1990s and was consulted on two of the U.S. cases. “It kind of came out of left field. I think the jury is still out on why this would have any activity against Ebola.”

Although treatments have varied, ZMapp and TKM-Ebola are the only drugs proven to protect nonhuman primates from Ebola, Geisbert said.

While the manufacturer of ZMapp ran out of the drug before Duncan’s diagnosis, limited doses of TKM-Ebola were available, according to Julie Rezler, a spokeswoman for the drugmaker, Tekmira.

The latter was given to Dr. Rick Sacra, an American physician who was infected with Ebola in Liberia. He was treated at a Nebraska hospital and released healthy on Sept. 25, five days before blood tests confirmed Duncan’s diagnosis.

Other survivors include American medical missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who received doses of ZMapp in Liberia before they were flown to the United States.

Quarantine at the Aussie border from BBC News:

Australia suspends visas for people travelling from Ebola-hit countries

Australia temporarily stops issuing visas to people from countries affected by Ebola, in a bid to stop the virus from entering the country.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told parliament that Australia would suspend its immigration programme for such travellers.

The restriction comes after an 18-year-old who arrived from West Africa earlier this month was admitted to hospital with a fever. She later tested negative for Ebola.

Mr Morrison said on Monday that those who have received non-permanent or temporary visas and who have not yet left for Australia will have their visas cancelled. Those with permanent visas can enter the country, but have to be quarantined for 21 days prior to arriving.

While the Guardian covers more Australian concerns:

Australia seeks hospital back-up for volunteers in Ebola-hit countries

  • As Coalition signals change in policy on relief workers, minister wants to ensure that Australians can call on western-run medical treatment

The Abbott government is considering whether western-run field hospitals in west Africa would have the capacity to cater for any Australian health volunteers who contract Ebola, and what quarantine rules should apply to workers when they return home.

Australia has previously resisted calls to send medical experts to the region on the basis that it has been unable to secure iron-clad guarantees from other countries to help transfer volunteers in the event they contracted the virus.

The health minister, Peter Dutton, signalled on Monday that the government would “have further comments to make in relation to these matters” and was considering whether health workers would have access to “appropriate medical assistance on the ground”.

And the Italians act on theirs, via TheLocal.it:

US troops isolated in Italy over Ebola fears

US troops returning from West Africa are being placed under isolation at a base in Italy as a precaution to prevent the potential spread of the Ebola virus, the Pentagon said on Monday.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the army directed a small number of personnel, about a dozen, that recently returned to Italy, to be monitored in a separate location at their home station of Vicenza,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.

But he added: “None of these individuals have shown any symptoms of exposure.”

Major General Darryl Williams, who stepped down Saturday as head of the military mission in Liberia helping to fight the Ebola outbreak, and 11 members of his staff, were assigned to a separate location at the base in Italy and were being monitored by a medical team, Warren said.

From El País, a quarantine ends:

Ebola victim’s husband released from hospital after 21 days in isolation

  • Javier Limón will speak to the media on Monday afternoon to discuss plans for legal action

The husband of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who became the first known Ebola transmission case outside of Africa, has been discharged from hospital.

Javier Limón left Carlos III Hospital in Madrid after spending 21 days in isolation because of his close contact with the infected patient. He did not develop any Ebola symptoms, health officials said.

Limón, who has been acting as a buffer between his wife and the outside world, where media interest in the couple remains huge, left in the company of his lawyer at 9.45am. He used a different entrance from the one where journalists and camera crews were waiting for him, around 400 meters away.

And fury ensues. Via TheLocal.es:

They treated us as scum: husband of Ebola nurse

The husband of Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero who beat the Ebola virus has slammed the handling of the country’s Ebola crisis as a “complete disaster”, saying he now plans to take Madrid’s health boss to court over comments made about him and his wife.

“They laughed at us, they treated us like scum,” said Romero’s huband Javier Limón in an interview with Spain’s El Mundo newspaper.

“They destroyed our life, they killed our dog, and they nearly killed my wife,” said an angry Limón who left Madrid’s Carlos III hospital on Monday morning after three weeks in isolation.

“On top of all that, this guy comes out and says that my wife — who volunteered (to treat two Ebola-infected Spanish missionaries who were repatriated to Spain) — is a liar, that she lied about her fever,” said Limón, referring to controversial comments by Madrid’s regional health chief, Javier Rodríguez.

A Tokyo tempest from the Japan Times:

Man arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda airport tested for Ebola

A man in his 40s who arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport Monday after spending two months in Liberia was found to have a fever, and officials decided to check him for Ebola, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The result of the blood test at a Tokyo research facility will be known early Tuesday, the officials said.

The man, reportedly a 45-year-old journalist whose name was not released, was transported to the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku Ward. The blood test was conducted at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo.

And the result, from Nikkei Asian Review:

Tests find no Ebola for suspected case in Japan

A viral summit from the Japan Times:

Cabinet preparing to hold Ebola prevention meeting

A select group of Cabinet ministers will meet soon to discuss countermeasures for the deadly Ebola virus, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Monday.

Shiozaki told reporters about the plan after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day. Abe instructed him to hold the ministerial meeting as soon as possible, according to Shiozaki.

He also told Shiozaki to formulate thorough measures against Ebola and strengthen cooperation among the ministries and agencies, with relevant developments to be reported to the National Security Council.

After the jump, insurance companies play the Ebola policy game, a Big Pharma wager, belated approval of crucial equipment on to Africa and a regional assessment, a plea for help from afflicted nations and a European call for thousands of helpers for African work, the depleted ranks on the ground, on to Sierra Leone and new anti-Ebola measures that inflict their own hardships and high praise for burial measures, then on to Liberia and cremations aplenty spelling bad news for coffin-makers, pairing survivors with orphans, another sad impact on a devastated healthcare system, an American mission underway, movie night in an Ebola ward, aid from China and Norwegian girls, an American pledge to Guinea and Guinean survivors head back to the hot zone to help, don’t stigmatize our people pleads the Nigerian president, and preparedness in Zimbabwe. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Angst, profiteering, and Africa


Always Africa, first with a report from CCTV Africa:

Guinea Village Believed to be ‘source’ of Ebola outbreak

Program notes:

Guinea’s Melliandou village is believed to be the place where the current Ebola outbreak started. Researchers from The New England Journal of Medicine have traced the origin of the virus to a family in which a two-year-old boy from the village was the first victim to have died of Ebola in December 2013. CCTV’s Carol Oyola reports

And from StarAfrica, fears of spread to yet another country:

Ebola fears in Sudan’s oilfields spread

Fears have spread in the oil-rich Sudanese state of West Kordofan after four suspected cases of Ebola were alleged among oil workers in the area, medical sources disclosed on Saturday. The sources confirmed that two civilians died from an infection in El Muglad city , and two other infected remain in the hospital of El Fula, West Kordofan.

They claimed that the cases were all showed symptoms of Ebola may qualify for the deadly virus.

Medical source from El Fula hospital said that the hospital treated the two patients the same as patients with hemorrhagic fever.

“The two cases are now isolated and receiving treatment as hemorrhagic fever till further blood investigation diagnosis about the type of the hemorrhagic fever,” he added.

On to the U.S., first with a case of Ebola politics from BuzzFeed:

Democratic Senator Slams NRA, Republicans Over Ebola Response

  • Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services

A Democratic senator puts the blame for the Centers for Disease Control’s slow response to Ebola directly on the National Rifle Association and Senate and House Republicans.

Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services.

“We don’t have a surgeon general to, to run this, to oversee this, because of the opposition to him brought on by opposition from the National Rifle Association,” Brown said.

“So we’re not – we have cut spending on public health in this country, um, because some members of Congress, unfortunately a majority in the House, would prefer to do tax cuts for the wealthiest people and cut public services like CDC, like National Institutes of Health, like early childhood education – this wasn’t foreseen but some of it could have been prevented if we had people in Washington that really looked out more for the public interest than for their special interests.”

Quarantine affirmations from the New York Times:

Governors of New York and New Jersey Defend Ebola Quarantine Amid Concerns

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey stood by his decision to require medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa into quarantine, even as the first health worker to be isolated under the new policy spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, calling her treatment “inhumane” and accusing Mr. Christie of making misleading statements about her health.

Kaci Hickox, who was ordered into quarantine after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday even though she had no symptoms associated with Ebola, said during an interview with CNN that officials still have not told her what they plan to do next or why they are isolating her since she poses not public health risk as long as she remains asymptomatic.

In that interview, she also blasted Mr. Christie for saying that she was sick, when it was clear that she was not running a fever and had tested negative for Ebola.

“The first thing I would say to Governor Christie is that I wish he would be more careful about his statements about my medical condition,” she told CNN. “If he knew anything about Ebola he would know that asymptomatic people are not infectious.”

While another state joins the list, via the Associated Press:

Florida orders 21-day monitoring for Ebola

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates as affected by Ebola.

Scott signed the order Saturday, giving the Florida Health Department authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. Scott said in a press release that his administration had asked the CDC to identify risk levels of returning individuals from specific parts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requesting information specifically about the risk level for four people who had already returned. His office said that the CDC had identified the four individuals who faced some risk but had not provided the levels of risk.

“Therefore, we are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already – and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area – to take part in twice daily 21-day health evaluations with DOH personnel,” he said.

Florida joins New Jersey, New York and Illinois in ordering the 21-day monitoring program.

And the counterargument, via the Associated Press:

US disease expert argues against Ebola quarantine

The gulf between politicians and scientists over Ebola widened on Sunday as the nation’s top infectious-disease expert warned that the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa is unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from traveling to the danger zone.

“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Meanwhile, Kaci Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said in a telephone interview with CNN that her isolation at a hospital was “inhumane,” adding: “We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.”

Golden State preparations from the Los Angeles Times:

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola — should any such cases arise.

As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals’ readiness. But the UC facilities — in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

“We appreciate [the UC Medical Centers’] leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients,” said state health department director Dr. Ron Chapman, in the statement.

“In the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola,” added Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

From the Independent, the anti-testimonial:

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox says she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ after return home to US

A nurse has criticised the process for treating aid workers when they return home saying she was met with a “frenzy of fear” when she landed in America.

Kaci Hickox said that when she arrived back in the US on Friday after working with Doctors without Borders in Sierra Leone she was met with “a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and most frightening, quarantine”.

The nurse, who tested negative for Ebola, wrote in the Dallas Morning News: “This is a situation that I would not wish on anyone. I am scared for those who will follow me” and suggested that other health workers could be put off doing aid work.

Ms Hickox said that after she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport following a two-day journey from West Africa, she was taken to a quarantine office and questioned.

“One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal,” she said.

And with litigation to come, via the London Telegraph:

US nurse sues after being forced into quarantine as she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

  • Kaci Hickox accused New York and New Jersey officials of criminalising those risking their lives to fight virus in Africa

A US nurse who says she was treated like a “criminal” after returning from caring for Ebola victims in West Africa has hired a top human rights lawyer to challenge her enforced quarantine.

Kaci Hickox, the first person to be placed under a new mandatory quarantine for health workers who arrive back in the US via airports in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, was ordered into a 21 day period of isolation despite testing negative for the disease.

She has now hired Norman Siegel, a high profile civil rights attorney, to challenge the order.

And she finds an ally, via the Los Angeles Times:

New York mayor criticizes New Jersey’s ‘disrespect’ of Ebola nurse

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the treatment of a symptom-free nurse quarantined in New Jersey after she returned from caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, saying, “What happened to her was inappropriate.”

De Blasio’s remarks came during a  news conference at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, where a doctor infected with the deadly virus remained in serious but stable condition Sunday, showing slight improvement. Dr. Craig Spencer had recently returned from a stint with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, where he treated Ebola patients. Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday.

The mayor spoke during a time of heightened anxiety both in the nation’s largest city and in the governor’s offices of New York, New Jersey and Illinois, with the states ordering medical personnel returning from West Africa to be preemptively quarantined for 21 days — the longest incubation period known for Ebola.

More politics, via The Hill:

Issa: Ebola quarantines stem from lack of trust in federal government

House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Sunday that a lack of trust in the federal government is forcing governors to mandate quarantines for those returning from West Africans nations battling Ebola.

“Governors of both parties are reacting to an absence of leadership,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Issa said if it is true that people who have become infected with Ebola are not contagious until they are showing symptoms, “immediate isolation of people for 21 days is not the answer.”

Issa said he supported continuous monitoring, but added that there was no trust in the federal government to ensure it is done correctly.

And a pullback from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

New York state backtracks on Ebola rules after White House weighs in

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there would no longer be a blanket quarantine procedure for all people entering the state from affected countries in West Africa.

New York state on Sunday (Oct 26) eased its rules for how those arriving from Ebola-stricken West Africa must be treated, ending a mandatory isolation period for people who had no contact with an infected patient.

New York, New Jersey and Illinois have drafted in measures that see health care workers returning from West Africa – epicentre of the most deadly Ebola outbreak on record – quarantined for three weeks, while a fourth US state, Florida, has ordered twice-daily monitoring during that period.

But under pressure from the White House, where officials believe these rules could deter health workers from helping fight the epidemic in West Africa, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rushed to ease his state’s Ebola-clearance procedures.

And a broadside in Africa from BBC News:

Ebola: Visiting envoy Samantha Power condemns response

The US ambassador to the UN has begun a visit to the three nations worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, criticising the level of international support so far. Samantha Power has landed in Guinea and will visit Sierra Leone and Liberia.

She told NBC some nations who offered backing “haven’t taken responsibility yet” in supplying aid and doctors.

Ms Power told NBC as she boarded her plane: “The international response to Ebola needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now.”

She said: “You have countries at the UN where I work every day who are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the US and the UK and others are doing, but they themselves haven’t taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money.”

After the jump, a Korean border closure, questions as the American military deploys in the hot zone, Big Pharma’s profit dreams, fast-tracking a test, an Ebola scare Down Under and a much-anticipated test, African infrastructure woes, Chinese capabilities questioned, Nigeria dispatches medics to the hot zone but neglect lessons learned at home, on to Sierra Leone and a presidential plea against isolation, a video report on stark conditions in Freetown, and economic side effect, plus so me catastrophe profiteering in the good ol’ U.S.A. . . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Inequality and Ebola


From Nissim Mannathukkaren of Dalhousie University’s international relations faculty in Halifax, Nova Scotia, writing in The Hindu:

Inequalities are at the heart of the Ebola crisis. Ebolas are produced in a world in which the United States spends $8,362 annually per person on health while Eritrea (Africa) spends $12. It is the same world in which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries which constitute a mere 18 per cent of the world’s population spend 84 per cent of the total money spent on health in the world. Thus, unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of tuberculosis deaths and 99 per cent of maternal mortality are in the developing world.

And these inequalities are not only between the developed and the developing worlds, but also exist within the developed world as the health indicators of African Americans and indigenous people in North America show. In the city of London, it is estimated that while travelling on the tube eastwards from Westminster, each tube station signifies the loss of approximately one year of life expectancy.

It is not an accident that Ebola’s epicentre is in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They are some of the poorest countries in the world with a history of wars and conflicts, and of collapsing or dysfunctional health systems. Liberia has only 51 doctors to serve 4.2 million people and Sierra Leone, 136 for six million.

Inequalities mark every step of the current outbreak. Questions are being asked about the initial tardy hospital treatment given to Duncan and whether his race and class had anything to do with it — here was an African man without medical insurance seeking emergency medical help in the most privatised and corporatised medical system in the West. That his nine-day treatment cost $5,00,000 (Rs.3 crore) should tell us something about the state of global health care.

When American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola in Liberia, the American government had them airlifted — isolated in an “aeromedical biological containment system” — and had them successfully treated in the U.S. Contrast this with the 22-year-old Liberian woman and nurse-in-training, Fatu Kekula, who was forced to look after four of her Ebola-stricken family members at home using trash bags as protective gear after hospitals turned her away.

Quote of the day: America’s imperiled kids


From the abstract of a stunning new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics:

Children account for 73.5 million Americans (24%), but 8% of federal expenditures. Data on health and health care indicate that child well-being in the United States has been in decline since the most recent recession. Childhood poverty has reached its highest level in 20 years, 1 in 4 children lives in a food-insecure household, 7 million children lack health insurance, a child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds, and 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese. Five children are killed daily by firearms, 1 in 5 experiences a mental disorder, racial/ethnic disparities continue to be extensive and pervasive, and major sequester cuts and underfunding of pediatric research have damaged our global leadership in biomedical research and hobbled economic growth.