Category Archives: Community

Berkeley Street Seens: A post-prandial stroll


Walking southbound on Shattuck Avenue, we encountered the abandoned. . .

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1600, 35.6 mm, 1/125 sec, f5.5

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1600, 35.6 mm, 1/125 sec, f5.5

BLOG Clothes

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 3200, 19.4 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.3

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 3200, 19.4 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.3

The broken. . .

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 18.2 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.3

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 18.2 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.3

The engimatic. . .

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 13.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.9

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 13.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.9

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 200, 6.9 mm, 1/200 sec, f3.9

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 200, 6.9 mm, 1/200 sec, f3.9

And the luminous. . .

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 25.9 mm, 1/125 sec, f5.4

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 25.9 mm, 1/125 sec, f5.4

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1600, 10.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.7

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1600, 10.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.7

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 160, 11.7 mm, 1/200 sec, f4.9

13 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 160, 11.7 mm, 1/200 sec, f4.9

EbolaWatch: Fears, help, hope, despair


We open today’s news from Africa and elsewhere with an assessment from the New York Times:

U.S. Scientists See Long Fight Against Ebola

The deadly Ebola outbreak sweeping across three countries in West Africa is likely to last 12 to 18 months more, much longer than anticipated, and could infect hundreds of thousands of people before it is brought under control, say scientists mapping its spread for the federal government.

“We hope we’re wrong,” said Bryan Lewis, an epidemiologist at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

Both the time the model says it will take to control the epidemic and the number of cases it forecasts far exceed estimates by the World Health Organization, which said last month that it hoped to control the outbreak within nine months and predicted 20,000 total cases by that time. The organization is sticking by its estimates, a W.H.O. spokesman said Friday.

But researchers at various universities say that at the virus’s present rate of growth, there could easily be close to 20,000 cases in one month, not in nine. Some of the United States’ leading epidemiologists, with long experience in tracking diseases such as influenza, have been creating computer models of the Ebola epidemic at the request of the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department.

Another alarm, via the Daily Climate:

Ehrlich: Ebola, population and evolution whip up a wicked recipe for disaster

  • The 1918 influenza pandemic infected one-fifth of the world’s population. On an increasingly hot, overcrowded planet, could Ebola be our next global scourge?
  • Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich calls for a holistic defense.

We have a problem with “emergent” diseases, ones that are becoming potentially serious to a larger and more vulnerable human population. Ebola and Marburg viruses, because of their high death rates, could become this generation’s version of the flu pandemic that swept the globe at the end of World War I.

If it does, we have only to blame ourselves: Our degraded environment, our unchecked population growth, our nonchalance at global poverty, hunger and disease and our jet-setting ways.

The filoviruses are native to Africa and commonly infect non-human primates (don’t eat chimpanzee meat) and some bats, which may be the main natural reservoir. The favorable conditions for transfer are directly related to human population size. The more people who come into contact with animal reservoirs and the more people who need “bushmeat,” the higher the odds of a virus transferring into people.

NBC News poses a question:

Just Who Is Leading the Fight Against Ebola?

The Ebola toll is fast approaching 5,000, with 2,400 people dead in the space of a few months, the World Health Organization said Friday. It’s getting worse and not better. Yet aid is not pouring into West Africa.

It mystifies Sophie Delaunay, executive director of the U.S. office of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders). “We know what needs to be done but we don’t know why it’s not being done. It’s incomprehensible to us,” she told NBC News.

Dr. Oliver Johnson of the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership at Connaught Hospital in Freetown echoes the sentiment. “The international response to the outbreak remains virtually non-existent, in terms of actual impact on the ground,” Johnson wrote in a plea to international infectious disease specialists. “At Connaught … our isolation unit is full with adult and pediatric cases and we have suspected cases in the waiting area and emergency room that we can’t isolate — I don’t know how much longer the hospital will be able to stay open in these circumstances.”

CBC News carries a plea:

Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone asks for outside help for sick doctor

  • 4th doctor from African country to be infected with deadly virus

Sierra Leone has requested funds from the World Health Organization to evacuate a doctor sick with the deadly Ebola disease.

Dr. Olivet Buck is the fourth doctor from Sierra Leone to come down with Ebola, which has been blamed for 2,400 deaths in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have recorded the vast majority of cases.

Buck, a citizen of Sierra Leone, would be the first doctor from one of the countries hit hardest by Ebola to receive treatment abroad. The other three doctors from Sierra Leone died in the country.

A letter from President Ernest Bai Koroma’s office said he had approved Buck’s evacuation to a hospital in Hamburg, Germany, “where they are in readiness to receive her.”

From the New York Times on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia:

Back to the Slums of His Youth, to Defuse the Ebola Time Bomb

The girl in the pink shirt lay motionless on a sidewalk, flat on her stomach, an orange drink next to her, unfinished. People gathered on the other side of the street, careful to keep their distance.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah waded in. Details about the girl spilled out of the crowd in a dizzying torrent, gaining urgency with the siren of an approaching ambulance. The girl’s mother had died, almost certainly of Ebola. So had three other relatives. The girl herself was sick. The girl’s aunt, unable to get help, had left her on the sidewalk in despair. Other family members may have been infected. Still others had fled across this city.

Dr. Fallah, 44, calmly instructed leaders of the neighborhood — known as Capitol Hill, previously untouched by Ebola — how to deal with the family and protect their community. He promised to return later that day, and send more help in the morning. His words quelled the crowd, for the moment.

Another report from Monrovia, this time from the Washington Post:

As Ebola cases accelerate, Liberia’s sick must fend for themselves

Steps from a chance at salvation, or at least a less excruciating death, Comfort Zeyemoh walked slowly from the Ebola treatment center on Saturday. It was one of only three in a city devastated by the lethal virus. And it was nearly full.

Zeyemoh, 22, was not sick enough to gain entry, though she had started vomiting the night before and was feeling weak. Those are telltale signs of Ebola.

“They sent us here for a checkup,” her boyfriend, Moses Sackie, said outside the facility run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. “Now they are telling us to wait for three days.”

With each day, the small group of caregivers trying to cope with the worst outbreak of Ebola on record falls further and further behind as the pace of the virus’s transmission rapidly accelerates. Health facilities are full, and an increasing number of infected people are being turned away, left to fend for themselves.

From Punch Nigeria, an act of despair:

Ebola hospital workers down tools over pay in Sierra Leone

Local workers have gone on strike in an overcrowded Ebola ward at a major district hospital in Sierra Leone’s disease-stricken east over claims the government is failing to pay them.

Up to 80 workers crowded the entrance compound to the hospital on Friday, deserting their posts and bringing operations at the Ebola treatment ward to a standstill. The workers were peaceful but frustrated.

The workers were recruited nationally to boost staff numbers at Kenema Government Hospital where they operate inside a tented ‘high-risk’ zone as nurses and support staff tasked with treating the sick, disinfecting contaminated equipment, cleaning faeces, vomit and blood and removing and burying dead bodies.

“I started working here one month ago and we have been paid nothing for the last two weeks,” Umaru, a hygienist, told Al Jazeera. “We have stopped everybody from working until we receive our risk incentive.”

The New York Times conveys a plea:

Liberian President Pleads With Obama for Assistance in Combating Ebola

The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has implored President Obama for help in managing her country’s rapidly expanding Ebola crisis and has warned that without American assistance the disease could send Liberia into the civil chaos that enveloped the country for two decades.

In a letter on Tuesday to Mr. Obama, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf wrote that “I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us.” She urgently requested 1,500 additional beds in new hospitals across the country and urged that the United States military set up and run a 100-bed Ebola hospital in the besieged capital, Monrovia.

Infectious disease experts have sharply criticized as inadequate the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis, particularly in Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves. Global agencies like the World Health Organization and the United Nations have also come under criticism for responding too slowly to the Ebola outbreak.

From Reuters, military assistance:

U.S. to train Liberian armed forces to help tackle Ebola crisis

The United States said on Friday it would train Liberia’s security forces to assist in isolation operations to tackle an Ebola epidemic ravaging the West African nation, after a boy was killed when soldiers opened fire on a protest last month.

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has killed more than 2,400 people in West Africa – more than half of them in Liberia. Liberian officials have called the outbreak the greatest threat to national stability since a 1989-2003 civil war.

Many in the country, founded by descendants of freed American slaves, have looked to Washington for support, as they did during the civil war, which killed nearly 250,000 people.

The New York Times covers another cost:

Rampant Ebola Fear Takes Toll on Africa Tourism

Ebola is thousands of miles away from Kenya’s pristine Indian Ocean beaches, but the deadly disease appears to be discouraging tourism there and elsewhere in this vast continent.

Harald Kampa, a hotelier near Mombasa, says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is hurting his business.

For two weeks in August he had no international arrivals at his Diani Sea Resort, leading him to suspect that Ebola had frightened away his clients. He noticed an improvement only after Kenya Airways canceled flights to the Ebola-hit West African nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia, action that the local tourism fraternity said was necessary to assure tourists of Kenya’s determination to keep Ebola out.

Kampa is not alone. Tour operators across Africa say they face difficulties as the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 2,200 people in four countries, continues to defy international efforts to control it. Tourism, a major source of revenue for many African countries — especially Kenya and South Africa — is increasingly being hurt as some potential visitors hesitate over visiting the continent which is home to the disease.

And from Reuters, a helping hand:

Cuba answers WHO’s call for more Ebola help

Program notes:

The communist island nation of Cuba is sending 165 healthcare workers to West Africa to help fight Ebola, said to be the biggest commitment of personnel from any one country against the current outbreak. Mana Rabiee reports.

TheLocal.fr mixes in the politics:

French minister ‘first’ in Africa Ebola zone

The French development secretary said Friday she was the first minister in a European government to visit any of west Africa’s Ebola-hit nations as she prepared to fly to Guinea.

The French development secretary said Friday she was the first minister in a European government to visit any of west Africa’s Ebola-hit nations as she prepared to fly to Guinea.

Annick Girardin will visit Ebola units and healthcare workers in the Guinean capital Conakry on Saturday to discuss France’s contribution to the battle to halt an epidemic which has taken 2,400 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A video report Deutsche Welle covers another effort, potentially profitable:

German researchers help in fight against Ebola

Program notes:

In Eastern Germany’s Halle, a team of scientists is producing antibodies from tobacco plants. They will be used in the manufacture of a new drug that researchers hope can be used to treat ebola.

Punch Nigeria reports other assistance:

FIFA to set up Ebola treatment centres in Liberia, others

President of the International Federation of Football Associations, Sepp Blater, on Saturday said the organization would give full support to three West African countries heavily hit by the Ebola Virus Disease.

According to “Inside Games,” an online news provider, Blater made the pledge at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

The publication stated that the world football’s governing body said that the issue would be discussed and agreed upon at its next Finance Committee meeting which would hold in France on Sept. 25.

And for our final item, another Westerner saved, via the Associated Press:

Ebola patient in Omaha eating ice cream

Officials at the Nebraska Medical Center where an American aid worker infected with Ebola is being treated say the patient is getting his appetite back.

Dr. Rick Sacra was flown to the Omaha, Nebraska, hospital on Sept. 5 for treatment in the hospital’s specialized 10-bed isolation unit.

Sacra’s doctors and his wife, Debbie, have said the 51-year-old doctor’s condition has steadily improved since he arrived.

Berkeley Street Seens: A frog on Shattuck Ave.


Spotted on the sidewalk whilst on our way to hoist a pint with pals in downtown Berkeley:

4 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.4

4 September 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.4

EbolaWatch: Dire warnings, campaigns, a song


We begin today’s coverage of the plague now stalking Africa with a dire prediction from Deutsche Welle:

Virologist: Fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia is lost

  • The killer virus is spreading like wildfire, Liberia’s defense minister said on Tuesdayas he pleaded for UN assistance. A German Ebola expert tells DW the virus must “burn itself out” in that part of the world.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he and his colleagues are losing hope for Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic.

“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” he said. That time was May and June. “Now it is too late.”

Schmidt-Chanasit expects the virus will “burn itself out” in this part of the world. With other words: It will more or less infect everybody and half of the population – in total about five million people – could die.

Another apocalyptic warning, via Punch Nigeria:

2.1m Nigerians at risk —Report

A new research study by Britain’s University of Oxford has revealed that 2.1 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting the Ebola Virus Disease.

According to the latest study published on Monday, the Ebola virus can spread to at least 15 more countries in West and Central Africa, pushing up overall number of people at risk of infection to 70 million.

The research titled, ‘Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa,’ compared historic outbreaks to the virus’s possible transmission in bats and chimpanzees to project how the virus could spread through its animal reservoir.

The Associated Press tallies:

35 deaths attributed to Ebola outbreak in Congo

The World Health Organization says that an Ebola outbreak in Congo is thought to have killed 35 people of the more than 60 sickened.

Congo, the site of the world’s first recorded Ebola outbreak, has had several flare-ups of the disease over the years. Officials say the current outbreak is not related to another taking place in West Africa blamed for the deaths of more than 2,200 people.

The U.N. health agency said Thursday that the Congo outbreak is concentrated in one county, and all of the 62 people believed to have contracted Ebola so far have been linked to one initial case. It said isolation units have been set up in each of the four affected villages, in a remote area of the Central African country’s northwest.

From France 24, World Health Organization Ebola specialist Dr. Zabulon Yoti discusses measures needed to contain the outbreak [despite the title, that’s the focus]:

Ebola Epidemic – West African economies overwhelmed

From Punch Nigeria, enlisting support:

Yero meets religious leaders on anti-Ebola plans

Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State  on Thursday  held a meeting with Christian and Muslim  leaders to sensitise them  on the Ebola virus disease.

Yero, who noted that it was  part of efforts to curtail  the spread of the deadly virus to the state, also told the religious leaders that the government would train 13,000 teachers in both private and public schools in the state before the September 22 resumption date for schools on how to handle the Ebola issue.

Speaking further on the Ebola virus, the governor said since the virus was a “special disease”, government would also place special emphasis on tackling its spread to the state.

Yero cautioned the media against sensationalising the disease in their reportage, noting that rather, the media should be in the vanguard of  educating and enlightening residents of the state on the virus.

Liberian Observer conveys a recommendation:

‘Include Ebola Survivors on Task Forces’

  • WHO Consultant Suggests

A health consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) assigned in Grand Cape Mount County, Dr. Akpaka Kalu, has called for the inclusion of Ebola survivors on the National Ebola Taskforce to educate citizens about the danger and prevention of the disease.

Dr. Kalu made the recommendation during the county’s Ebola Taskforce coordination meeting held on Wednesday in Sinje Town, Garwula District.

According to him, the inclusion of survivors on the taskforce was important, “because the survivors should be used as psycho-social counselors in the fight against the deadly epidemic.”

“Instead of bringing survivors on the taskforce,” Dr. Kalu lamented that unfortunately, the survivors are being stigmatized by Liberians rather than looking at them as resourced persons to educate others about the danger of the virus.

The Monrovia Inquirer covers an assessment:

Samukai Outlines Effects Of Ebola…Wants Support To Lift Travel Ban

Defense Minisrer, Brownie Samukai has outlined the effects of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.

Delivering a special statement at the United Nations Security Council, on Tuesday Minister Samukai said this “health emergency is affecting every sector of the Liberian society.”

Min. Samukai added that the nation’s economy has been very seriously disrupted. He said Local economic activities such as domestic food production, mining, and transport services have been undermined.

“Moreover, the slowdown in domestic food production, particularly in affected areas of the country, has negatively impacted food supply, thus triggering increasing demand for imported commodities, at higher prices, minister Samukai said.

From the Liberian Observer, some good news:

Firestone Medical Center Discharges 6 Ebola Survivors

The Firestone Medical Center in Duside on September 2 and 9, discharged six survivors from its Ebola Treatment Unit. The first patient, Madam Jenneh Farsue, the wife of a Firestone Liberia employee, contracted the deadly Ebola virus in July/August. She was discharged following several weeks of intensive medical care at the Firestone Hospital and after testing negative of the virus. Five more persons were discharged and reintegrated from Isolation into the communities on the 9th of September.

In addition to the hospital and Ebola Treatment Unit, Firestone Liberia also runs a reintegration program to help those returning to the community following isolation or treatment for Ebola. Speaking at the reintegration program for Mrs. Farsue in Division 28, Cubitts Community, Dr. Lyndon G. Mabande, the Medical Director of the Firestone Health Services, called on residents of the community to interact with Mrs. Farsue as they used to do and accept her back into the community because she is healthy. He described her recovery as “a true success story in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”

He called on his fellow teammates, residents and the general public to adhere to the preventive measures stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the World Health Organization (WHO). Mabande further appealed to Liberians to stop the denial syndrome so people can be treated early, a key in the fight against Ebola. “Come to the hospital soon. If you come soon, with all we can put together, you may come home saved,” Dr. Mabande said. He also commended the medical staff for their work in the fight against this disease. “Let us continue to cooperate. If we work in isolation, we are not going to succeed, and it requires team work,” he told the gathering.

Punch Nigeria covers anger over austerity on the front lines:

Ebola outbreak: Anger in Lagos infectious diseases hospital

Members of staff of the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, have expressed anger over the impending removal of the hazard allowance component of their September salary. Sources within the hospital told our correspondent that the Lagos State government has excised the allowance, which has been paid for years in the September payroll.

“We have sighted the payroll for September already and there is no provision for this allowance which has been paid to us for more than four years. This is really terrible. If government wants to remove anybody’s allowance, should it be from us workers at the IDH? What kind of problem is this?” one of the workers of the hospital lamented.

Earlier, volunteers at the isolation ward had protested the non-payment of their daily allowance since August 30.

New Europe lends a hand:

UN allocates $3.8 million to support a UN air service operating in Ebola-struck West Africa

The United Nations humanitarian chief has allocated $3.8 million from an emergency fund to support a U.N. air service operating in the Ebola-struck West African region.

Valerie Amos said Wednesday that a reduction in commercial air flights as a result of the Ebola outbreak has hindered the urgent deployment of health workers and supplies.

She said the $3.8 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund will assist the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service, run by the World Food Program, to move humanitarian personnel, medical supplies and equipment and aid rapidly to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

After the jump, a call for a military-like response from the North, anxieties over U.S. military “help,” a warning about corruption, Ebola fears Down Under, and another musical response. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Americans still love libraries


From a new report [PDF] from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Libraries

EbolaWatch: Dire warnings, strikes, fears, more


We’re breaking out Ebola stories for a separate post, since there are so many today, and the news is increasingly grim. We continue our focus on using reports from African news media.

First up, from BBC News:

Ebola death toll reaches 2,288, says World Health Organization

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed 2,288 people, with half of them dying in the last three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

It said that 47% of the deaths and 49% of the total 4,269 cases had come in the 21 days leading up to 6 September.

The health agency warned that thousands more cases could occur in Liberia, which has had the most fatalities.

And from World Health Organization, focusing on Liberia:

Ebola situation in Liberia: non-conventional interventions needed

During the past weeks, a WHO team of emergency experts worked together with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and members of her government to assess the Ebola situation in Liberia.

Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially.

The investigative team worked alongside staff from the Ministry of Health, local health officials, and other key partners working in the country.

All agreed that the demands of the Ebola outbreak have completely outstripped the government’s and partners’ capacity to respond. Fourteen of Liberia’s 15 counties have now reported confirmed cases.

Some 152 health care workers have been infected and 79 have died. When the outbreak began, Liberia had only 1 doctor to treat nearly 100,000 people in a total population of 4.4 million people. Every infection or death of a doctor or nurse depletes response capacity significantly.

A video report from Radio Africa gives a sense of day to day life in the nation’s capital:

Three Ebola Deaths in the Heart of Monrovia

Program notes:

Father, mother-in-law and sister all dead from the deadly Ebola virus on Ashmund Street, Monrovia.

From FrontPageAfrica, more grim news:

Ebola Hits Liberian Police, 1 Infected, 18 Quarantined at Depot

The deadly Ebola virus is spreading in Monrovia and beyond, touching the security sector as 18 Police officers have been quarantined in Bloc C at the Police Barracks in Monrovia.

According to sources, one Police officer serving the Police Support Unit (PSU) contracted the virus and is currently undergoing treatment at the ELWA Ebola center.

One senior Police source confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that the officer is in critical condition at the Ebola treatment center. The Police officer is said to have contracted the virus from his wife who is a nurse, who transferred the virus to her husband after also getting infested from work.

FrontPageAfrica again:

Gov’t Extends Curfew, Quarantined Dolo Town Residents Freed

Following nearly a month of curfew beginning 9:pm to 6:am the Government of Liberia has extended by two hours the restriction with people now allowed to move freely from 11pm to 6:am.

A statement from the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism issued Monday stated: “The Government of Liberia has with immediate effect extended the Curfew throughout the Country from 9 P.M to 11 P.M beginning Monday, September 8, 2014″.

The Government also announced that the quarantine on the community of Dolo Town has been lifted. Dolo’s Town was quarantined on the same day as the West Point Community. Many Liberians have been complaining that the curfew has been affecting normal business activities and also contributing to increase in armed robbery in Monrovia and immediate environs.

More troubling news from FrontPageAfrica:

Disappearing Act: Ebola Supplies Shortages Amid Liberia Donations

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the place. But if someone pointed to the ELWA2 Ebola Isolation Unit and told you that it was one of the rare feel good stories in Liberia’s much-criticized handling of the virus outbreak, you may want to take a closer look.

Fenced in by zinc, the facility is discharging Ebola patients in impressive numbers. Fifty in the past two months has made the unit a symbol of hope for many who doubted anyone could survive the deadly Ebola virus here. It’s a Friday and Dr. Jerry Brown, the director here has enough bed spreads to take him to the end of September but he could use much more. What he really needs urgently are medicines and essential medical supplies – a lot of them.

“Take your pick”, he says, showing a laundry list of urgent medical needs: Selenium, IV Fluids; Normal Saline(1 Liter/2-3 liters bags) 500cc, Dr. Brown says are burdensome needs at the unit many have come to dub the hub of the “Miracle Health Workers, comprising one doctor(Dr. Brown); two nurses and two Physician Assistants.

Rounding our our headlines from FrontPageAfrica, a video report:

FPA WEB TV: Limited Spaces for Ebola Patients

Program notes:

Residents in the ELWA Community are concerned that the rejection of patients at the two facilities treating Ebola patients due to lack of space could spur a spread of the virus in the area.

Next, from the Liberian Observer, more worrisome news:

Gov’t ETU Refuses Suspected Ebola Patients

One of the Government’s Ebola Treatments Units (ETUs)  in the country, the 24th Street facility in Sinkor, last Friday refused to accept some suspected Ebola patients for treatment.

Speaking to the Daily Observer reporter who visited the ETU, the driver of Representative Saah Joseph’s ambulance, Foday Gallah, disclosed that authorities at the treatment center informed him that no more beds were available for the suspected Ebola patients.

“I came here since two hours ago with the ambulance of four persons suspected of the virus, but authorities of the area are telling me that they don’t have beds for anymore  patients. And I can’t take them anywhere [else], not even to  their Soul Clinic Community because the community will not agree to accept these people.”

And an understandable protest via the Liberian Observer:

Redemption Hospital Workers Protest

“The Workers Association quizzed the management as to whether the Redemption Hospital was being used to treat Ebola patients. According to him, they had answered in the negative and added that anyone suspected of the virus would be transferred to the Ebola treatment center.” ~ Sam Faley, Jr., Redemption Workers Assn. VP

The Redemption Hospital in the borough of New Kru Town, Bushrod Island, was on Monday turned upside down after the Workers Association demanded their benefits, compensation, Ebola protective materials and other necessities in the often dangerous work environment.

Speaking to the Daily Observer reporter, who visited the hospital, the vice president of the association, Samuel Faley Jr., said the association had written a series of letters to the administration about the lack of benefits for the workers, risk benefits for staff and the special package that was promised by the President.

According to him, the association asked the management to urgently address the situation unfolding at the institution.

From the Monrovia Inquirer, a Liberian promise:

Gov’t Targets 1000-Bed Ebola Center…Extends Curfew To 11 PM, Lifts Quarantine On Dolo’s Town

Information Minister, Lewis G. Brown, has said that to fully combat the deadly Ebola virus the Government of Liberia and its partners have targeted at least 1,000 bed Ebola transit and treatment centers in the country.

Minister Brown said government is committed to speeding up the erection of these centers to properly respond to the treatment of Ebola noting that the current centers are filled leading many to be resting on the floors awaiting treatment.

The Information Minister, addressing journalists at his daily Ebola Briefing yesterday next week a 1,000 bed center will be open in Bong County while another with the capacity of 120 beds is expected to be operational at the Island Clinic under the auspice of the Government of Liberia (GOL) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

On to Nigeria, first with Science:

Nigeria’s Ebola outbreak spreads

The hopes that Nigeria’s Ebola outbreak could be quickly stamped out have evaporated. The World Health Organization (WHO) this afternoon issued its first detailed report of the spread of the virus in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub. Last week, authorities announced that a doctor there had died of the disease, after secretly treating a diplomat who had been infected in Lagos by a traveler from Liberia.

The doctor had close contact with family, friends, and health care workers during his illness, but he did not disclose his previous exposure to the virus. His infection wasn’t confirmed until 5 days after his death. Experts are now following hundreds of the doctor’s contacts, 60 of which had “high-risk or very high-risk exposure,” WHO says.

The diplomat had been instructed to stay in Lagos in quarantine. Instead he flew to Port Harcourt, where he was treated—in a hotel room—by the doctor from 1 to 3 August. The diplomat survived and returned to Lagos, presenting himself again to health authorities, who confirmed he was no longer was infected. He did not tell them that he had sought treatment in Port Harcourt.

Punch Nigeria gives a sense of things on the ground:

Panic in OAU as P’Harcourt doctor’s aide falls sick

A female aide of Dr. Iyke Enemuo, the Port Harcourt doctor, who died of the Ebola virus in the Rivers State capital created apprehension at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State on Tuesday when she took ill at the university.

Our correspondent gathered that the female student had contact with the late doctor and was put under surveillance in Port Harcourt for 21 days before she was certified okay, having tested negative to the virus.

On her return to OAU to resume her studies, however, she took ill and was walked to the university’s health centre where she was admitted. Some students told our correspondent that the lady was bleeding and showing other signs of the Ebola virus.

This was said to have caused a serious panic among the students of the university.

Punch Nigeria again, with a $713,000 allocation:

Kaduna releases N116m for Ebola detecting equipment in schools

Kaduna State Government on Tuesday said it had released N116m for the purchase of  Ebola Virus Disease detecting equipment in  public schools.

The Commissioner for Education in the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Ali, said this at the flag-off of training for 13,000 teachers on prevention of EVD ahead of the Sept. 22, resumption date for primary and post primary schools.

Ali, who stressed the need for preventive measures against the spread of the disease, urged participants to ensure strict compliance amongst staff and students on good hygiene.

Homeland Security News Wire covers another curious case:

U.S. air marshal in quarantine after suspected Ebola syringe attack at Lagos airport

An American federal air marshal was placed in quarantine in Houston, Texas yesterday after being attacked Sunday night at the Lagos, Nigeria airport. The assailant wielded a syringe which contained an unknown substance, and was able to inject an unknown substance into the back of one of the air marshal’s arms. ABC News reports that the air marshal, who was in Nigeria with a team of other marshals, was attacked when the group was in an unsecured area of the airport terminal in Lagos.

The marshal was able to board the United Airlines flight to Houston, where he was met by FBI agents and health workers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Fearing the syringe contained liquid contaminated with the Ebola virus, the authorities in Houston immediately put him into quarantine. The FBI said he was screened “on-scene… out of an abundance of caution.”

And on a regional level, Punch Nigeria covers coprdination:

SADC plans coordinated actions in fight against Ebola

Health ministers in southern Africa have agreed to take coordinated actions, including quarantine on people travelling from Ebola-affected West African countries.

Southern African Development Community Health Ministers held an extraordinary meeting in Zimbabwe to discuss response to the Ebola outbreak.

A statement released after the meeting on Tuesday said that authorities in the region will screen travellers at all critical points of entry or exit and people with a history of close contact with those infected, the infected dead bodies and the infected animals will be quarantined for a period of up to 21 days.

The 15 member states of the SADC were also urged to discourage their citizens from travelling to affected countries, as well as to avoid hosting mass gatherings involving people from affected countries unless it was absolutely essential.

NHK WORLD offers help:

Tokyo to send protective gear to Ebola-hit areas

The Tokyo Metropolitan government will send 100,000 sets of protective gear to Ebola-hit countries in West Africa. The region is facing a serious shortage of medical workers and equipment.

Officials say they will ship the first batch of 20,000 sets next week to Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the disease is spreading. They say the shipment will include clothing, gloves and goggles for medical workers.

Officials say the Tokyo government had stockpiled the items to prepare for the possible outbreak of a new type of influenza.

And Science offers hope for the future:

Ebola vaccines racing forward at record pace

On 2 September, a 39-year-old woman in Bethesda, Maryland, received a novel Ebola vaccine never given to humans before. In as little as 2 months, this same vaccine may go into the arms of thousands of health care workers and other first-line responders to the Ebola epidemic now wreaking havoc in West Africa. No experimental vaccine has ever been on a faster track toward widespread use. “It’s absolutely unprecedented,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO).

On 5 September, more than 200 “technical experts” convened by WHO recommended bypassing the usual time-consuming regulatory pathways for potential Ebola vaccines and therapies. “We have to change the sense that there is no hope in this situation to a realistic hope,” Kieny said. No one expects a vaccine will slow the epidemic directly, yet it could help keep and attract workers leading containment efforts.

And for our final item, the Guardian cautions:

Ebola: WHO guidelines risk healthcare workers’ lives, expert claims

  • Epidemiologist criticises official precautions recommending use of only goggles and masks as ‘lethally inadequate’

An Australian infectious diseases expert has accused the World Health Organisation of playing Russian roulette with the lives of healthcare workers fighting the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

Raina MacIntyre, a professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales, questioned health worker protection guidelines issued by the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control in a co-authored editorial in the International Journal of Nursing Studies on Tuesday.

The guidelines recommend medical staff treating Ebola patients wear goggles and masks, but because the virus is largely transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids and not airborne particles, they do not recommend using higher-level protective equipment like respirators.

But in controversial comments MacIntyre said this was a mistake, with 120 healthcare worker deaths reported during the ongoing outbreak so far, which is also the worst recorded.

EnviroWatch: Ebola, Dengue, Gulf spill, nukes


First up, a new body count from CNN:

Ebola virus has killed more than 1,900, health officials say

More than 3,500 people have been infected by the Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the first documented cases in December, according to new figures released Wednesday by the World Health Organization. More than 1,900 people have died.

There is also a smaller, unrelated outbreak in Congo and at least one confirmed case in Senegal, according to WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan.

She characterized the outbreak as a “global threat” and encouraged the international community to do more to combat it. Chan complimented the United States for its “very strong support” through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press mulls:

Could the blood of Ebola survivors help patients?

As West Africa struggles to contain the biggest ever outbreak of Ebola, some experts say an unusual but simple treatment might help: the blood of survivors.

The evidence is mixed for using infection-fighting antibodies from survivors’ blood for Ebola, but without any licensed drugs or vaccines for the deadly disease, some say it’s worth a shot.

“This is something that’s fairly simple to do,” said Dr. Peter Piot, director of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus.

A video report from euronews:

WHO agrees to fast-track development of experimental vaccines to counter Ebola

Program notes:

The World Health Organisation has fast-tracked the development of eight treatments and two vaccines to counter the Ebola virus.

Experts have gathered in Geneva to discuss the new drugs. The meeting follows a recent decision by the WHO to allow the use of experimental pharmaceutical products in the current Ebola epidemic, given its high death toll.

As such, some companies, such as NewLink Genetics Corp, have been given the go-ahead to begin initial testing of the vaccines on humans.

From the New York Times, austerian costs:

Cuts at W.H.O. Hurt Response to Ebola Crisis

With treatment centers overflowing, and alarmingly little being done to stop Ebola from sweeping through West African villages and towns, Dr. Joanne Liu, the president of Doctors Without Borders, knew that the epidemic had spun out of control.

The only person she could think of with the authority to intensify the global effort was Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, which has a long history of fighting outbreaks. If the W.H.O., the main United Nations health agency, could not quickly muster an army of experts and health workers to combat an outbreak overtaking some of the world’s poorest countries, then what entity in the world would do it?

“I wish I could do that,” Dr. Chan said when the two met at the W.H.O.’s headquarters in Geneva this summer, months after the outbreak burgeoned in a Guinean rain forest and spilled into packed capital cities. The W.H.O. simply did not have the staffing or ability to flood the Ebola zone with help, said Dr. Chan, who recounted the conversation. It was a fantasy, she argued, to think of the W.H.O. as a first responder ready to lead the fight against deadly outbreaks around the world.

Another tragedy, via Reuters:

Doctor with Ebola treated patients in Nigeria, left dozens at risk: WHO

A Nigerian doctor with Ebola carried on treating patients and met scores of friends, relatives and medics before his death, leaving about 60 of them at high risk of infection, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Members of his church visited him in hospital in the oil hub Port Harcourt and performed a healing ceremony “said to involve the laying on of hands”, said the U.N. agency.

“Given these multiple high-risk exposure opportunities, the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos,” the WHO said.

And from Deutsche Welle:

Nigeria steps up the fight against Ebola

  • Nigeria is fighting to become an Ebola-free country again. The government has now set up a free hotline. It is a place where phones ring nonstop.

Bodunrim Kehinde Paul is sitting in front of his computer. He is wearing his headset and holding a pen in his hand. The caller is talking about a neighbor who might have contracted Ebola. “What symptoms does the person have?” Paul asks. “Fever,” is the answer. “And his body itches.”

Paul is a doctor by profession and he now works at the Ebola hotline center in Lagos where a toll free number has been set up by the government, to raise awareness about the epidemic. He normally works at the University Hospital of Lagos. But four weeks ago, he decided to leave his working place and become a volunteer at the Ebola hotline center.

On average, the doctors and medical students at the hotline center receive about 500 calls a day. Two Ebola cases have already been identified thanks to the helpline. That makes Paul proud.

From the Guardian, bearing the burden:

Thankless, dangerous – the task of the Ebola burial boys in Sierra Leone

  • Workers, paid $100 a month, toil to bury the bodies in order to stop the virus spreading – but they pay a heavy price

The night after Alfred Jusson buried his first Ebola victim he had a nightmare: the corpse sat on the edge of his bed, blood dripping from her nostrils. When he got up to run away, she chased him.

Three months ago, Jusson had never heard of Ebola, one of the world’s most lethal viruses. Now he volunteers to collect corpses, a job that puts him at the frontline of battle as the disease is spread by contact with bodily fluids.

“Sometimes when I think of it at home when I’m alone, I become scared. It’s not easy to just [handle] a dead body like that,” the 22-year-old said one evening after carrying out four burials in Kailahun, the remote, forested district at the heart of Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak. Malaria, cholera and tuberculosis – endemic diseases that fell tens of thousands annually in Sierra Leone – used to be the illnesses that filled Jusson’s days as he worked in his parents’ tiny, dusty pharmacy and dreamed of one day becoming a doctor. In his spare time, he worked on the family’s farm, saving and studying every day, until he was able to sit pre-university exams in December.

Punch Nigeria advocates:

Experts preach abstinence to male survivors

Experts are advocating abstinence from sexual activities for at least eight weeks for male survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease. According to the World Health Organisation, male survivors still have a considerable amount of the virus in their semen up to six weeks after being cured.

Medical doctors who spoke with our correspondent however advised survivors to imbibe appropriate public health behaviour so as not to infect their partners. In extreme situations, they also advocated barrier methods such as use of condoms in order to minimise the risk of infection during sexual intercourse.

A consultant in Fetal Medicine and Genetics, Dr. Femi Oloyede, urged the men to abide by what counsellors told them before being discharged from the isolation centre.

From the Guardian, a call to serve:

UK government urged to allow NHS staff to help Africa’s fight against Ebola

  • Most cost-effective way ‘to control our health is control health of those around us’, say tropical disease experts in the Lancet

Leading tropical disease experts have called on the government to free up NHS staff to help fight Ebola, which is continuing to spread across west Africa.

Prof David Moor, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and two of his senior colleagues say it is incumbent on the UK to share the burden that is crippling the already weak health systems in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – the three countries worst affected by the deadly virus.

“We believe that in order to support the UK’s response, the NHS must allow staff temporary leave of absence from their post to contribute to the global response.

“Consultant physicians, specialty trainees, and specialist nurses in specialties including infectious diseases, microbiology, virology, public health, intensive care and infection control are well placed to offer assistance and should be supported,” Moore said in a letter to the Lancet. It is co-signed by Catherine Houlihan, a senior research fellow and Dr Ron Behrens, a clinician at the college.

The Associated Press chips in:

US to provide $75M to expand Ebola care centers

The U.S. aid agency is providing $75 million to fund 1,000 more beds in Ebola treatment centers in Liberia and tens of thousands of protective suits for health care workers.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed 1,900 people already and officials say it is out of control.

The U.S. Agency for International Development on Thursday also urged American medical workers to respond to the outbreak, saying several hundred more international experts are needed.

The Hill does the politics:

House Dems request hearing on Ebola

A group of House Democrats is asking for a hearing on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as global health officials issue increasingly desperate cries for help.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and two other key members of the panel, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), urged GOP leaders to schedule the event soon.

“The House is scheduled to be in session only ten days this month. We should use this time wisely and hold hearings on this important global health issue as expeditiously as possible,” they wrote.

Off to Asia and another outbreak from News On Japan:

Tokyo closes part of Yoyogi Park after dengue-carrying mosquitoes found

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government closed part of Yoyogi Park on Thursday after confirming that mosquitoes caught in traps earlier this week were carrying the dengue virus, metropolitan officials said.

The discovery confirmed the park as the site of infections for dozens of people over the past several weeks. Four traps out of the 10 placed by metropolitan officials contained mosquitoes carrying the virus, the officials said.

Since the first domestic outbreak of dengue fever since 1945 was confirmed last week, the number of patients has risen to 49, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The Los Angeles Times covers another kind of plague:

Halliburton agrees to pay $1.1 billion in Deepwater Horizon spill

Halliburton has agreed to a $1.1-billion settlement stemming from its involvement in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 people, attorneys for the company and plaintiffs said Tuesday.

The settlement seeks to put to bed most of the claims filed against the oil field services giant by individuals and businesses affected by the spill, including commercial fishermen and charter boat operators and individual fishermen or hunters in certain areas who depended on their catch for subsistence, attorneys with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Deepwater Horizon litigation said.

“Halliburton stepped up to the plate and agreed to provide a fair measure of compensation to people and businesses harmed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” attorneys Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy said in a statement from the committee.

From Reuters, the codependent/codefendant:

BP found ‘grossly negligent’ in 2010 U.S. spill, billions in fines loom

BP Plc was “grossly negligent” for its role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, a U.S. district judge said on Thursday in a ruling that could add billions of dollars in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken so far for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans held a trial without a jury last year to determine who was responsible for the April 20, 2010 environmental disaster. Barbier ruled that BP was mostly at fault and that two other companies in the case, Transocean Ltd (RIG.N) and Halliburton (HAL.N), were not as much to blame.

“The Court concludes that the discharge of oil ‘was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct’ by BP, the ruling said.

From the Guardian, potential costs:

Deepwater Horizon: gross – more than £9bn hangs on that one short word

  • BP had made a provision of $3.5bn for simple negligence, but the gross variety could take the penalty to almost $18bn

One of these decades, the size of BP’s final bill for the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 may become clear. In the meantime, weary shareholders – who include almost everyone in the UK saving for retirement via a company pension – will reflect that the running total only ever seems to go up, despite constant expressions of confidence from the boardroom that this time the corporate lawyers really are sure of the strength of their case.

The company will appeal against the ruling in the US district court that it was guilty of “gross” negligence for the accident that killed 11 people and caused 2.5m or 4.2m barrels of oil (that’s another dispute) to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

On that word “gross” could hang about $15bn (£9bn). BP had made a provision of $3.5bn for simple negligence, but the gross variety could take the penalty to almost $18bn under the clean water act if the number of spilled barrels is indeed shown to be 4.2m. There is no point in trying to guess whether BP’s appeal will succeed. All one can say is that Thursday’s £5bn fall in BP’s stock market value fairly reflects the increased legal risks: this ruling is a serious setback.

After the jump, Japan’s whaling decision, and the last, eventful chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading