We begin today’s coverage with a harsh question from the Washington Post:
Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path.’ Could it lead to Liberia’s collapse?
At a news conference Thursday, finance minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is at “war with an enemy we don’t see.” Two days earlier, the Ebola-ravaged country’s defense minister, Brownie Samukai, delivered a harrowing warning of his own.
“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” Samukai told the U.N. Security Council. “The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our state.”
The U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Karin Landgren, seems to agree with Samukai, at least to an extent. Landgren told the U.N. Security Council this week that “Liberians are facing their gravest threat since war,” referring to two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left more than 250,000 dead. Those bloody conflicts completely destabilized the country, and Liberia was still recovering when the current Ebola outbreak began.
Landgren warned the Security Council “that the Ebola crisis has become complex, with political, security, economic and social implications that will continue to affect the country well beyond the current medical emergency,” according to Global Post.
On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said Ebola has crippled the mining, agriculture and services sectors Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone, Reuters reported.
More from Deutsche Welle:
Ebola drags Liberia’s economy into recession
Liberia’s finance ministry has acknowledged that the ongoing Ebola outbreak has led to a decline of the country’s economic growth. This has forced the government to slash public expenditure.
The Ebola epidemic is not just devastating the Liberian population but is also severely crippling all sectors of the country’s economy: notably health, trade and education. Liberia is currently experiencing its worst ever crisis since the end of the country’s brutal civil war in 2003.
Announcing the fall in projected economic growth rate, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is now in a difficult moment amid the Ebola epidemic. “In all of this, our economy is taking a hit – serious hit,” the minister told reporters.
“This year we were projected to grow at 5.9 percent. Last year we grew 8.7 percent. The year before last year (2012), we grew 8.9 percent. Now, working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government has revised its growth projection to 2.5 percent.”
And still more from the World Health Organization:
The Ebola outbreak that is ravaging parts of west Africa is the largest, most severe, and most complex in the nearly four-decade history of this disease.
This is Ebola Zaire, the most deadly in the Ebola family of viruses. This is a dreaded virus that is highly contagious, but under only two very specific settings.
First, during care of patients at home by family members or in hospital settings without proper protection against infection. Second, during certain traditional burial practices that involve close contact with a highly infectious corpse.
In the 3 hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centres.
In Liberia, for example, an Ebola treatment facility, set up jointly by WHO and the Ministry of Health, was recently established to manage 30 patients. It had more than 70 patients the day it opened.
Today, Liberia has not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient anywhere in the entire country.
Our response is running short on nearly everything, from personal protective equipment, to body bags, to mobile laboratories, to isolation wards.
BuzzFeed examines failure [and the medium is finally devoting some good coverage to the story and deserves kudos]:
How Global Health Failed Liberia As The Ebola Outbreak Took Hold
- Liberians have been sounding the alarm for weeks. Why has real action on Ebola been so slow?
This is a catastrophe Liberia saw coming. Earlier this summer, when hundreds of foreign medical personnel were working to battle Ebola in Sierra Leone, Monrovia watched its caseload swell. Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s assistant health minister, warned in late July that the capital didn’t have enough beds in its only Ebola treatment ward to admit all the patients who had come in with symptoms.
That wasn’t just inconvenient; it was a public health disaster. Patients aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, but once they do, they easily infect anyone who comes into contact with their bodily fluids. With no beds at the hospital, the sick returned home, and families without knowledge of the disease or its transmission cleaned up from the havoc it wreaked on their dying loved ones — and caught the disease themselves.
There weren’t more beds because there weren’t more resources — financial, logistical or human. “After the Philippine typhoon, there were 150 foreign medical teams” offering care, Dr. Ian Norton, who coordinates foreign medical teams for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia, told BuzzFeed News by telephone from Monrovia on Tuesday. “We’ve seen four here.”
From the Guardian, a sad truth:
Ebola outbreak an avoidable tragedy, say UK MPs
- Commons committee report says hesitancy and lack of coordination over crisis suggests that emergency plans failed
In a blunt report published on Friday, the Commons International Development Committee urged Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) to place greater emphasis on building up weak health systems and to draw on the medical and managerial expertise of the NHS in doing so.
“The devastating ongoing Ebola epidemic in west Africa has served to emphasise the importance of establishing strong health systems,” it said. “The apparent hesitancy and lack of coordination in the international response suggest that the global health system and emergency plans have failed.”
While the committee described DfID as a “world-leader” in strengthening health systems, it said it feared the department’s “target-driven mentality”. It added that work with large international partnerships whose focus is on getting rapid results by concentrating on specific, high-profile diseases had come at the expense of shoreing up health infrastructures in poorer countries.
While the New York Times offers an epidemiologist’s chilling prognosis:
What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.
The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?
The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
From TheLocal.ch, another case of delayed assistance:
Switzerland steps up aid to Ebola-hit countries
Switzerland has pledged an additional two million francs in aid to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa which has killed over 2,400 people since the outbreak began in March.
The extra funding provided by Swiss Humanitarian Aid will be used to support Médecins sans Frontières Switzerland (MSF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), according to a government statement released on Friday.
One million francs will go to a MSF emergency programme for north Liberia, while the other million will be used by WFP for a regional emergency operation to fend off the hunger crisis triggered by the epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
From People’s Daily, ditto:
China offers new aid for combating Ebola
China on Friday announced a further 200 million yuan (32.54 million U.S. dollars) package of humanitarian aid to African countries and international organizations to help control Ebola.
The aid will include food, supplies for disease control, emergency treatment facilities, and capital support, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
China will also promote long-term medical cooperation with African countries, to help them raise their disease control and response abilities and improve public health systems.
The Associated Press prepares for a pep talk:
Obama to visit Atlanta health center to talk Ebola
President Barack Obama will travel next week to Atlanta to address the Ebola crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House said Friday.
During his visit on Tuesday, Obama will be briefed about the outbreak and discuss the U.S. response with officials, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Obama will also thank the doctors, scientists and health care workers responding to the crisis.
Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa. The Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and has been blamed for more than 2,200 deaths in West Africa. So far, the death rate is about 50 percent, with doctors and nurses at a high risk of contracting the virus.
Punch Nigeria covers a significant decision:
Uniport Alumni backs Sept 22 schools resumption
The University of Port Harcourt Alumni has thrown it’s weight behind the decision of the Federal government to shift backwards the resumption date for primary and secondary schools in the country to September 22.
In a statement issued on Friday and signed by it’s National President, Mr. Sampson Ngerebara and the National Secretary, Mr. Chris Adokeme, the association explained that it was satisfied with the presentation of the Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu on the basis for the rethink.
The Minister had told Nigerians that the shift in the resumption date was necessitated by the fact that the spread of the Ebola virus has been contained in the country.
From StarAfrica, a bullet dodged:
Nigeria: Quarantined S/African tests negative for Ebola
A South African woman, who was under quarantine in Nigeria as a suspected Ebola case, has tested negative for the disease.The woman will be allowed to return home, a U.S. disease expert, Dr. Aileen Marty, who is assisting Nigerian health authorities said in Lagos on Friday.
The traveller, who had flown into Lagos via Morocco on Thursday, was held overnight in an Ebola treatment centre for tests after she acknowledged suffering Ebola-like symptoms after working in Guinea and Sierra Leone since April.
The two countries and Liberia have been the epicenters of the epidemic since February.
The Liberian Inquirer intercepts:
BIN Officer Suspected Of Ebola Intercepted
An officer of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) whose wife died of Ebola in Monrovia was intercepted en route to Boniken while returning to the Southeast.
He entered onboard a truck marked ‘TT 2085?. Winston Isaac arrived in Maryland at 9:00 a.m. on Monday and was discovered in the ‘Cassava Farm Community’ in Pleebo.
According to our correspondent, the truck was en route to Grand Kru County with goods on board while another report coming from the county on a community radio in Pleebo disclosed that the goods were rejected by residents in Grand Kru County on ground that a man whose wife died of Ebola was onboard even though he stopped in Pleebo but intercepted in Boniken.
The Liberian Inquirer again, with outrage:
18 Dead, 47 Suspected Ebola Cases On The By-Pass…Residents Stone Rep. Gray’s House For “Abandoned” Body
In the wake of the wide spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the city, residents of the By-pass community have reported the death of 18 persons in the community with at least 47 suspected cases of Ebola. Yesterday, hundreds of angry residents and community dwellers set up roadblock in protest to a suspected Ebola body which they said have been locked indoor for the past three days in the Rock Spring Community.
The residents through their Chairman, Joseph S. Kannah and Madam Ernestine King said since the death of a boy identified as Alvin Nyanti commonly known as Chineseboy in the community they have made several calls to the Ebola Response Center but to no avail.
Mr. Kannah said about 16 persons were suspected of having the virus in the Rock Spring Community who have been continuously denied by the various treatment centers due to limited capacity to host them.
And from the Liberian Inquirer once more, admonition:
Gov’t Renews Warning To Would-Be “Ebola Rogues”…Releases Report On The Expenditure Of U. S. $5m
The acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, says any individual or entity found to have abused the public trust in the management and operations of fund allotted for the fight against the deadly Ebola virus will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. Acting Minister Konneh said the total estimated financial requirement to address the national response was initially quoted at US$2O million dollars, but rose to US$34.8 million when all implementing agencies submitted their three-month budget.
Minister Konneh said support to all health related interventions in this plan amounts to US$20 million, constituting 84 percent of the entire budget.
He said the Government of Liberia began the process with an initial injection of US$5 Million, made possible through a short term loan from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
The Associated Press covers treatment:
American gets blood from fellow Ebola survivor
An American aid worker infected with Ebola has been given blood from a fellow doctor who battled the disease, and Nebraska doctors say the man has responded well to aggressive treatment in the past week.
Dr. Rick Sacra received two blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantly last weekend after arriving at the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Phil Smith said Thursday. Sacra also has been given an experimental drug that doctors refuse to identify, and he has received supportive care including IV fluids.
Sacra is close friends with Brantly, one of the first two Americans treated for Ebola in Atlanta last month, from their missionary work.
Bloomberg covers another sad consequence of the crisis:
Black Market in Blood Serum Emerging Amid Ebola Outbreak
A black market for an Ebola treatment derived from the blood of survivors is emerging in the West African countries experiencing the worst outbreak of the virus on record, the World Health Organization said.
The United Nations health agency will work with governments to stamp out the illicit trade in convalescent serum, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters today in Geneva, where the organization is based. There is a danger that such serums could contain other infections and wouldn’t be administered properly, Chan said.
The WHO is encouraging the use of properly obtained serum to treat current patients and said last week it should be a priority. A third U.S. missionary worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and flown to the U.S. for medical care was treated with blood transfusions from another American who recovered from the virus last month. Doctors hope the virus-fighting antibodies in the blood help the 51-year-old physician, Rick Sacra.
BBC News covers substantial help:
Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas
Cuba is sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials say. Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.
The announcement comes as the World Health Organization says new cases in West Africa are increasing faster than the capacity to manage them.
Dr Margaret Chan, director of the WHO, said: “If we are going to go to war with Ebola we need the resources to fight. “I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known.”
BBC News again, with a symbolic gesture:
Recovered Ebola patient William Pooley to return to Africa ‘in a few weeks’
The first British person to contract Ebola in the current outbreak in Africa is to return to the country where he was infected in order to help others fight the disease.
William Pooley was treated in London after being flown out of Sierra Leone.
He has made a full recovery and, having been discharged from hospital, said he is to travel back within “a few weeks”.
Reuters covers withdrawal:
Netherlands to evacuate two doctors who had contact with Ebola victims
Authorities in the Netherlands are preparing to evacuate two Dutch doctors who had unprotected contact in Sierra Leone with patients who later died of Ebola, a Dutch public health official said on Friday.
The two doctors have shown no symptoms of the virus but authorities believe there is cause for concern because they were not wearing full protective clothing when they came into contact with the patients, who had not yet been diagnosed with Ebola.
“The two doctors’ personal protection should be considered inadequate. They could potentially have been exposed,” said Jaap van Dissel, director of the Dutch Center for Infectious Disease Control.
From BuzzFeed, the demographics of death:
Ebola Is Killing Women In Far Greater Numbers Than Men
- A Liberian health official estimates 75% of Ebola deaths are women. That’s because they are the nation’s caregivers.
The Ministry of Health says fully 75% of the Ebola deaths it has counted are women, but it doesn’t release disaggregated mortality statistics. But Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant minister of health who provided the estimate, agrees that whatever the number, women bear the biggest mortality burden of this disease. Culturally, they are expected to do the caretaking. “In this country,” he said, “men are bullshit.”
Slowly, health care workers are getting the equipment they need to touch patients, a head-to-toe uniform called PPE, or personal protective equipment. But there are no plans to issue PPE to mothers and wives and daughters.
It’s hard to imagine a mother tolerating PPE. The goggles and masks obscure the face; the head-to-toe white suit engulfs familiar body language or movement. People in PPE are white plastic strangers.
From TheLocal.es, more European fear:
Two new possible Ebola cases hit Spain
A 13-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man, both from Nigeria, have been admitted to hospital on the island of Majorca and the southern Spanish region of Murcia over fears they’re infected with the highly contagious Ebola virus.
Both suspected Ebola carriers flew to Spain in the past three weeks from the Nigerian capital of Lagos, Spanish national daily ABC reported.
Displaying Ebola symptoms such as muscle pain and high temperatures on admission to hospital, they are being kept in isolation in secure units equipped with the necessary means to deal with infectious diseases.
And for our final item, via the Guardian, the despicable Down Under:
Queensland Ebola scare: tourism chief says media damaged Gold Coast brand
- Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays after a man had been admitted to a Gold Coast hospital with ‘Ebola-like’ symptoms
The head of Gold Coast Tourism says sensational media reporting of the recent Ebola scare damaged the region’s brand as a holiday destination.
Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays and changed flights amid reports that a 27-year-old man had been admitted to the Gold Coast University hospital with “Ebola-like” symptoms.
Michael Walsh, 27, a fly-in, fly-out miner from Western Australia, was cleared on Thursday of having the deadly virus after two blood tests returned negative results.