Category Archives: Development

EnviroWatch: Oil spoils, toxins, nukes

A short compendium today. . .

First, via the Guardian:

Former oil mogul confirmed as EU climate and energy commissioner

  • Environmentalists outraged as Spanish conservative Miguel Arias Cañete is given top clean energy job in parliamentary horse trade

The Spanish conservative Miguel Arias Cañete was confirmed as the EU’s new climate and energy commissioner on Wednesday after a deal between centre-left and right parties in the European Parliament, despite protests from environmentalists.

The centrist pact saw Liberal former Slovenian prime minister, Alenka Bratušek, overwhelmingly rejected by MEPs as the commission’s new energy union commissioner, but the words ‘sustainability, climate action and energy’ added to the portfolio of Cañete’s boss, the Dutch socialist, Frans Timmermans.

MEPs had demanded this caveat as a condition for supporting Cañete, a former director of two oil companies. But after more than half a million people signed an Avaaz petition calling for Cañete’s rejection, environmentalists were left fuming at a perceived democratic deficit in the EU.

Victorious action in a toxic legacy from the Japan Times:

Asbestos victims win landmark legal battle as state faulted for poor ventilation

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court said Thursday the government acted illegally in failing to mandate ventilation to protect workers at asbestos mills, holding the state liable for ¥330 million in compensation.

It is the first time the top court has indicted the state for asbestos-linked health problems. The ruling is likely to influence similar lawsuits in the future.

It also ends an eight-year struggle for justice by several dozen sufferers from Osaka Prefecture who uncovered divisions between different layers of the judiciary in assessing the state’s culpability.

A victory for indigenous people via BBC News:

Chilean Supreme court orders halt to mine

Chile’s supreme court has halted the development of a gold and copper mine owned by the Canadian conglomerate, Goldcorp, until indigenous communities are consulted.

The court upheld an appeal filed on the El Morro mine by the Diaguita community in northern Chile.

The community said the mine, worth almost $4bn, could pollute a local river.

Several recent mining projects in Chile were blocked after local opposition.

From MIT Technology Review, a notable achievement:

Norwegian Factory Aims to Solve Cement’s Carbon Problem

The waste heat in cement production can drive technologies that can grab at least 30 percent of a plant’s carbon dioxide emissions

A Norwegian cement factory has shown that it’s able to capture much of its own carbon dioxide. If the approach were to become widespread, it could have a significant impact, since cement production is responsible for more than 5 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

The Norcem Brevik cement works, tucked into a scenic harbor south of Oslo, has used waste heat to drive a process called amine scrubbing that, at test scales, removed between 30 and 40 percent of the total emissions from the plant’s flue gases.

“We think we are the first project that is testing technology in real cement-plant conditions,” said Liv-Margrethe Bjerge, project manager for the test at Norcem, which owns the Brevik plant. “It’s the only cement project doing post-combustion capture.”

Next, a Fukushimapocalypse Now! concern from Jiji Press:

Locals Voice Concerns over Restart of Sendai N-Reactors

Local residents voiced concerns Thursday about a possible restart of the operations of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kagoshima.

At a meeting with locals, which was held in the city of Satsumasendai in the prefecture, officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority made an explanation about its screenings of the power firm’s measures to protect the nuclear power station in the city from possible disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions.

One of the participating residents asked the NRA whether Kyushu Electric has a measure to protect the plant in the event storm surge and tsunami occur at the same time.

Our final item, via the Asahi Shimbun:

Group to start ‘adoption’ parties for abandoned pets in Fukushima Prefecture

Abandoned pets that were left behind when their owners evacuated after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will soon be the guests of honor at a monthly party by a local volunteer group.

The group, Lysta, which was set up in September 2011, plans to hold the first adoption party on Oct. 12 in hopes of finding “foster parents” for the animals.

Lysta is currently keeping 11 dogs and 70 cats, including those that were born after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis. Of the 81 animals, two-thirds were taken in near the No. 1 nuclear plant.

EnviroWatch: Fire fears, critters, chemicals

Another short compendium today, though not for lack of searching. We begin with this from the Ecologist:

California burning points to more intense wildfires

As the forest fires burn on in the western US, writes Kieran Cooke, a new report predicts that climate-led temperature rise will lead to millions more acres across the world being burned to the ground, especially in southern Europe and Australia.

Smoke from fires burning at present in northern California has been detected as far north as Canada.

Thousands of firefighters are battling to contain blazes that together cover nearly 300,000 acres of forest and shrub wood. And it looks like things are going to get worse.

And now a new report by the US-based Cost of Carbon Pollution project forecasts that such fires are going to become ever more intense in the years ahead – not just in the western US, but elsewhere round the world, and particularly in areas of southern Europe and in Australia.

Next, an overdose from the Atlantic Monthly:

The FDA Says Farmers Are Giving Animals Too Many Antibiotics

Overuse of the drugs has increased over the past few years. That’s not good for human health.

A piece of bad news from the Food and Drug Administration: In the war against antibiotic overuse, the antibiotics are winning.

The amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States increased by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, the agency announced in a new report, and nearly 70 percent of those used are considered “medically important” for humans. That’s trouble for us as much as it is for our four-legged friends, who consume the majority of antibiotics in the U.S.—as much as 80 percent are given to the chickens, pigs, and cows bound for our grocery-store shelves, both to spur more rapid growth and to proactively protect them from disease.

Such widespread use of antibiotics has led to bugs that are getting tougher and tougher to treat. Worldwide, strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis and gonorrhea are on the rise. In the U.S., antibiotic resistance caused more than two million illnesses in 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 23,000 deaths, adding up to more than $20 million in healthcare costs.

From the Guardian, beguiled by the long green?:

WWF International accused of ‘selling its soul’ to corporations

  • Pandaleaks writer says conservation group has forged links with business which is using it to ‘greenwash’ their operations

WWF International, the world’s largest conservation group, has been accused of “selling its soul” by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to “greenwash” their operations.

The allegations are made in an explosive book previously barred from Britain. The Silence of the Pandas became a German bestseller in 2012 but, following a series of injunctions and court cases, it has not been published until now in English. Revised and renamed Pandaleaks, it will be out next week.

Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.

The Independent sounds a death knell:

Elephants and rhinos ‘could be extinct within two decades’ because of ivory poaching

Elephants and rhinos could be extinct within the next two decades, conservation campaigners are warning.

Wildlife campaigners say an estimated 35,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are killed each year as demand for ivory and rhino horn drives increasing poaching rates.

This demand means both species could potentially be wiped out within the next 20 years.

From the Jakarta Globe, capital critter conservation:

US Reduces Indonesian Debt in Exchange for Wildlife Protection

The United States has struck a deal to reduce Indonesia’s debts in exchange for Jakarta pledging about $12 million for programs to protect endangered species and their habitats on Sumatra island, conservationists said Friday.

The move adds to a similar agreement in 2009, under which the Indonesian government pledged $30 million for increased protection of Sumatra’s forests, said NGO Conservation International, which helped broker the deal.

The agreement, which was inked this week, will provide additional funds for environmental groups to improve programmes aimed at protecting the Sumatran low-land rainforests as well as efforts to increase populations of threatened animals.

The New York Times looks at the C-word in Brazil:

Clashing Visions of Conservation Shake Brazil’s Presidential Vote

From the podium at the United Nations to declarations on the campaign trail, President Dilma Rousseff is celebrating Brazil’s protection of the Amazon. But satellite data released last month shows that Brazil’s annual deforestation rate in the Amazon has climbed again after years of declines, rising 29 percent, leaving her vulnerable to attacks in this nation’s acrimonious presidential race. The vote is on Sunday.

“The mantra in Brasília is that they have deforestation under control, but the evidence on the ground shows this is not true,” said Philip M. Fearnside, a prominent researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus, the Amazon’s largest city.

Beyond alarming scientists, who note the importance of the vast rain forest to the world’s climate and biodiversity, the sparring over the Amazon symbolizes clashing visions of Brazil’s future. Both Ms. Rousseff and her top rival, Marina Silva, an environmental leader, say they want forest conservation, but the president’s model seeks economic growth by tapping into the Amazon’s natural resources, including huge mining projects and dams.

And our final item, via the Mainichi, mutating munchies:

Food safety commission recognizes snack food compound can cause gene mutations

The Cabinet Office’s Food Safety Commission called acrylamides, a chemical compound found in snack foods like potato chips, a carcinogen that can cause gene mutations, in a draft it released on Oct. 3.

The draft marks the first official evaluation of acrylamides’ alleged carcinogenic properties by Japanese authorities. In other countries, these properties have been recognized since the early 2000s based on various research studies, and those countries have been warning consumers about them. The Japanese food safety commission team has been independently looking into the substance’s properties since December 2011.

Based on animal experiments in Japan and in other countries, the team determined that acrylamides are carcinogens that can mutate genes and chromosomes and therefore even have effects on the subsequent generation.

EnviroWatch: Climate, water, eruption, fuels

First up, a fait accompli from the Guardian:

Floods, forest fires, expanding deserts: the future has arrived

  • Evidence from around the world supports scientists’ assertion that global warming is already happening

Climate change is no longer viewed by mainstream scientists as a future threat to our planet and our species. It is a palpable phenomenon that already affects the world, they insist. And a brief look round the globe certainly provides no lack of evidence to support this gloomy assertion.

In Bangladesh, increasingly severe floods – triggered, in part, by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels – are wiping out crops and destroying homes on a regular basis. In Sudan, the heat is causing the Sahara to expand and to eat into farmland, while in Siberia, the planet’s warming is causing the permafrost to melt and houses to subside.

Or consider the Marshall Islands, the Pacific archipelago that is now struggling to cope with rising seas that are lapping over its streets and gardens. Even the home of the country’s president Christopher Loeak is feeling the effects. “He has had to build a wall around his house to prevent the salt water from inundating,” Tony de Brum, the islands’ foreign minister, revealed recently.

From the Associated Press, water woes in parched California:

California’s water agencies look to budget water

As California’s severe drought continues, state and local agencies are looking at budgeting water use by creating a daily water allocation for each household.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports ( ) that under such a scheme, a household would be allotted a certain number of gallons for indoor water use and another for outdoor water use.

The amount allocated is calculated using census data, aerial photography and satellite imagery to determine a property’s efficient water usage amount. Those using above their designated amount would pay extra.

Such a system is already in use or being considered by several municipalities statewide.

A similar crisis half a world away from the Los Angeles Times:

Iran prays for rain amid acute water shortage

Concern is mounting about dwindling water supplies across Iran, from the densely populated, smog-ridden capital and its parched suburbs to provincial towns and cities to far-flung corners of the nation, much of which is desert. Lakes and rivers have been drying up, reservoirs are at historic lows and water supplies have been cut in some areas. The annual snowmelt from the mountains is on the decline.

On the streets here, people grumble about cuts in water service. Many buildings have tanks on the roofs to collect rainwater. Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained in months. Bottled water is available, but many Iranians have little excess income for purchasing it. Most Iranians rely on tap water for both drinking and washing.

“On some days of the week, our tap water is cut for seven or eight hours,” said Akbar Aziz, 40, a printing-house employee who lives in the capital’s working-class Khorasan district. “We are consuming as little as possible,” said Aziz, a father with young daughters. “We shower only two times a week. So we are not responsible for the water shortages.”

Environmental Health News covers another water woe:

Fish still contaminated with phased-out Scotchgard chemical

A persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates most fish in U.S. rivers and the Great Lakes despite a phase-out a dozen years ago, a new federal study shows.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the five Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.

The study, the largest of its kind in freshwater fish, suggests that eating bass, trout, walleye and catfish could be a major source of exposure for anglers and their families. The chemical remains widespread in wildlife, people and water around the world.

From BBC News, a body count:

Japan volcano: Mt Ontake rescue teams find 31 bodies

The bodies of 31 hikers have been found near the top of Japan’s Mount Ontake a day after a sudden volcanic eruption.

The hikers were not breathing and their hearts had stopped. The search for a total of 45 missing climbers has now been called off for the night.

The volcano, about 200km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, erupted without warning on Saturday, spewing ash and rocks. About 250 people were trapped on the slopes of the popular beauty spot, but most got down safely.

Deutsche Welle covers the story:

Hikers killed in Japan earthquake

Program notes:

More than 30 people have been killed after a volcano in Japan erupted unexpectedly. Mount Ontake continues to spew ash and smoke into the air, creating difficulties for rescue teams attempting to reach hikers still stranded on the slopes. Experts were taken by surprise by the eruption; they say there were no warning signs in the preceding hours.

From BBC News, Big Oil taps an arctic vein:

Rosneft and Exxon discover Arctic oil

Russian energy giant Rosneft says it has discovered oil with its US project partner Exxon Mobil at a controversial well in the Arctic. Drilling was completed in record time, it said, but questions remain about how quickly the well can be developed.

Exxon has said it will “wind down” the project following US sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Environmentalists have campaigned hard against drilling for oil in the pristine region.

“Rosneft successfully completed the drilling of the northernmost well in the world – the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Arctic,” the company said in a statement.

Big Oil fracks your British basement, via the Guardian:

Fracking trespass law changes move forward despite huge public opposition

  • Ministers reject 40,000 objections to allow fracking below homes without owners’ permission

Fracking will take place below Britons’ homes without their permission after ministers rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws.

The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore signals a major nuclear [power] proliferation:

India turns to nuclear as energy crisis deepens

  • Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, and it is now looking at nuclear options to ease a power crisis

India’s new prime minister is turning to nuclear energy to ease a power crisis made worse by the cancellation of hundreds of coal mining permits, but he faces scepticism both at home and abroad.

Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, but power blackouts are common and demand is rising quickly as the economy and middle class expand.

On Wednesday (Sep 24), the Supreme Court cancelled over 200 coal mining permits because the licensing process was deemed illegal, making the need for alternative energy sources yet more pressing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made nuclear a priority as he seeks to fulfil his campaign pledge to kickstart the country’s flagging economy.

Want China Times takes seaborne nuclear power in a whole new direction:

China ready to construct floating nuclear power plant

The 719th Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation was appointed to establish China’s first R&D center for floating nuclear power plants in central China’s Hubei province, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a contract with president Xi Jinping of China during his visit to Shanghai in May for the two nations to collaborate in constructing such a plant. As China Shipbuilding Industry Corp’s website writes, the floating plant will be used to provide electricity to Chinese facilities in the disputed South China Sea.

Equipped with a smaller nuclear reactor, some vessels can also be used to exploit the natural resources beneath the sea floor. When natural disasters and accidents strike, emergency assistance can be deployed from the floating station. If China gathers experience in operating such plants, they will be able to construct nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the future.

And for our final item, a nuclear reminder from the Mainichi:

Ex-mayor raps gov’t before 15th anniv. of Japan’s 1st criticality accident

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 was brought about as the government neglected to learn lessons from Japan’s first criticality accident that occurred 15 years ago, the former mayor of the affected village said Sunday.

Speaking before an audience of some 350 people who gathered for a public meeting ahead of the accident’s 15th anniversary, Tatsuya Murakami, who served as mayor of Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture until last year, said despite the accident Japan has persisted to maintain a “safety myth.”

“Japan was caught up in a ‘safety myth’ that a serious nuclear accident would not happen in this country when the criticality accident occurred at a nuclear fuel processor in this village” on Sept. 30, 1999, he said.

The myth and the failure to firmly clarify the cause of the accident eventually led to the Fukushima meltdown, he said.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, pleas, claims, & help

We begin with numbers from Punch Nigeria:

Ebola death toll more than 2,900 –WHO

The World Health Organisation has announced that the number of people killed by the Ebola Virus Disease has reached at least 2,917.

According to the global health body, the increasing casualty figure is driven by the continuing rapid spread of the disease in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The New York Times reported that the UN agency made the announcement on Thursday.

At least 2,909 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 6,242 reported Ebola cases over all, according to the latest report of the UN health agency. Nigeria and Senegal have recorded a total of eight deaths and 21 cases of infection.

More from Punch Nigeria:

… kills 200 people each day, says Ban

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said the Ebola Virus Disease kills more than 200 people every day.

Ban made the statement on Thursday at a high-level meeting on EVD in the United States of America. Present at the meeting were President of the Republic of Guinea, Alpha Conde; President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Koroma; and the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The UN secretary-general called the world’s attention to the ravaging impact of the Ebola outbreak, saying that despite the “valiant efforts of local communities, health systems are buckling under the strain.”

The McClatchy Washington Bureau conveys pleas:

West Africa pleads for faster help to fight Ebola virus

The presidents of three West African nations pleaded Thursday for much faster help from the world in battling a deadly Ebola outbreak that’s killed nearly 3,000 people and might infect more than a million others in the coming months as the virus continues to spread.

“Partners and friends, based on understandable fears, have ostracized us,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said at a meeting on the Ebola crisis at the United Nations. “The world has taken some time to fully appreciate and adequately respond to the enormity of our tragedy.”

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, who took the drastic step Thursday of putting more than a million people under quarantine, said the disease his nation was fighting was “worse than terrorism.”

The president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, attended in person, while the presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone stayed in their countries and participated by video.

A video report from Reuters:

West African leaders call for more aid for Ebola at UN

Program note:

Discussions on combating the spread of the Ebola virus are dominating much of the talks at the United Nations, where the affected countries are demanding more aid. Nathan Frandino reports.

Sky News covers tragic resistance:

Ebola: Roadblocks To Stop Health Workers

  • More disease ‘hotspots’ are put under quarantine amid reports that locals are putting up barricades to stop health teams

Roadblocks have reportedly been set up by residents in ebola-hit Guinea in a bid to stop health teams entering the area.

The number of people to die from deadly virus in West Africa has risen to nearly 3,000 – almost half of those so far infected – and further ‘hotspots’ were put under quarantine in an attempt to halt its spread.

But in some areas of Guinea, where an ebola team was killed last week, there was still resistance to such efforts, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.  There are reports from the Fassankoni area that locals were setting up barricades to intercept ebola response teams trying to enter the region, WHO said.

Star Africa News covers the arrival of tangible help:

U.S donates Ebola protective gears to Liberian govt

The United States government Thursday turned over the first batch of 9,000 home protection kits to the Liberian government.

The presentation of the items was made by a representative of the US International Agency (USAID) to Information Minister Lewis Brown. It is part of a batch of 50,000 home protection kits the US government promised Liberia for its fight against the spread of the Ebola virus at the level of homes.

In remarks, Information Minister Lewis Brown commended the Americans saying the kits are intended to help Liberians prevent themselves from contracting the virus.

Star Africa News again, with boots on the ground:

Liberia receives additional US military personnel, supplies for anti-Ebola war

Another C-17 aircraft carrying 39 US military personnel and equipment have arrived in Liberia as part of efforts to help in the anti-Ebola fight in West Africa.

The 39 military personnel including 15 US Navy SeaBees and 24 Operation United Assistance (OUA) Headquarters personnel arrived in Liberia on Tuesday, according to a US embassy release issued here Thursday.

The SeaBees make up the US Navy Construction Battalion. The SeaBees will be conducting site assessments and providing mentorship for the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) construction teams, which will be charged with building additional Ebola Treatment Units (ETU). Discussions are underway on the sites for ETUs and how many will be built.

The release said the C-17 US military aircraft also brought in a tactical truck, a tent system and three pallets of medical supplies.

From the Independent, another facet of reality on the ground:

Ebola virus outbreak: ‘Just two doctors’ available to treat 85,000 people in Liberia county

There are just two doctors available to treat 85,000 people in the Bomi County of Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by the deadly outbreak of Ebola.

The World Health Organisation said 2,917 people have died of Ebola out of 6,263 cases in the five West African countries affected by the disease. There were 99 deaths in Liberia between 17 and 21 September.

Recent worst-case estimates suggest a staggering 1.4 million people could be infected with Ebola by January in Liberia and Sierra Leone – more than ten per cent of their combined populations.

Similar problems in Nigeria from Punch Nigeria:

‘Only 13 pharmacists in Kwara’

Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter, Mr. Francis Olayiwola, has said that the state government has only 13   pharmacists employed in 31 health institutions across the state.

Olayiwola said the level of pharmacist staffing in the state was “dangerously low.”

He said the situation had done harm to the people of the state and that it would do greater harm if not addressed urgently.

He spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Thursday during a media briefing to mark the World Pharmacy Day.

Star Africa News wins support:

Liberia in $52m contract with UN agencies

The government of Liberia has signed a $52 million contractual agreement with four agencies of the United Nations to implement emergency Ebola response projects.The grant to support the intervention of the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Program and the United Nations Office for Project Services, was provided by the
World Bank in the amount of $52 million.

In remarks at the signing ceremony held Thursday in the capital Monrovia, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, who represented government, said the World Bank $52 million grant will be used to underwrite the operational cost of existing Ebola Treatment Units (ETU’s) for the next six months.

He further disclosed that the grant under the emergency Ebola response projects will also finance the construction of additional ETU’s as well as provide medical personnel and patients various necessities to combat the Ebola virus.

From Star Africa News, righteous anger:

Sierra Leone: Angry youths protest delay in burial of the dead

Some angry youths disrupted traffic in a part of the Sierra Leonean capital on Wednesday as a protest against delays in of burial of the dead by relatives.
Because of a state of emergency declaration, Sierra Leoneans have been banned from burying anyone, regardless of the cause of their deaths, unless with an official approval to do so.

This, the government said, is to ensure that all Ebola cases are identified and internment done properly, but also so that necessary quarantine measures are put in place.

As a result, dozens of bodies have been piling up across the country because of the inability of the relevant authorities to respond timely to suspected Ebola cases or dead bodies.

In some cases, bodies have spent over three days, and sometimes longer, awaiting a burial team. This poses serious health risk to not just the immediate family of the victims but the neighbours.

From BBC News, expanding the hot zone:

Sierra Leone widens Ebola quarantine to three more districts

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has widened a quarantine to include another one million people in an attempt to curb the spread of Ebola.

The northern districts of Port Loko and Bombali, and Moyamba in the south, will in effect be sealed off immediately.

Mr Koroma’s announcement follows a three-day nationwide lockdown that ended on Sunday night.

Two eastern districts have been isolated since the beginning of August and the extension of the indefinite quarantine means more than a third of Sierra Leone’s 6.1 million population now finds itself unable to move freely.

From CCTV Africa, help from China:

Ebola: Over 60 Chinese Medics Working in Sierra Leone

Program notes:

China was among the first countries to send in medics to the Ebola-hit region. In recent days, it’s provided more help with nearly 60 medical personnel flying into Sierra Leone. They’ve rushed to set up a much-needed testing facility just outside the capital, Freetown. It’s due to begin operations this weekend. CCTV’s Nina DeVries reports

More Chinese help from Xinhua:

China vows to stand alongside Africa in fight against Ebola

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday said the people of China will always stand beside the African people in the fight against Ebola.

Wang made the pledge while addressing a high-level meeting on response to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease on the sidelines of the annual UN General Debate.

“The epidemic may be merciless, but people with love help each other,” said Wang. “The Chinese government has provided instantly drugs, medical equipment and other disease prevention and relief materials to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.”

Star Africa News covers a funding increase:

W/Bank raises $400m for anti-Ebola effort

The World Bank on Thursday announced that it would nearly double its funds to Ebola-hit West Africa to $400 million to help address the emergency situation in the region and build stronger health systems for the future.The original funding by the World Bank was $230 million but a further $170 million has been cleared for the Ebola nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

“The global community is now responding with the urgency and the scale needed to begin to turn back this unprecedented Ebola crisis,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who was speaking on Thursday at a special session on the Ebola crisis at the United Nations in New York.

“The real challenge now is to bring care and treatment to the most remote areas as well as the cities and then to build a stronger health care system,” he added.

More help from Kyodo News:

Japan to boost aid for Ebola fight nearly 10-fold to $45 mil.

Japan will increase its aid to help West African countries fight the Ebola outbreak nearly tenfold to $45 million while also providing more protective equipment, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.

Japan, which already provided some $5 million to help contain the virus, made the fresh offer at an emergency U.N. meeting that Secretary General Ban Ki Moon convened as the death toll topped 2,900 in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Abe said Japan will increase the supply of protective equipment including goggles for people fighting Ebola to 500,000 items, up from 20,000 decided earlier this month.

The Washington Post covers another Northerner healed:

Third American with Ebola, Richard Sacra, discharged from Nebraska hospital

Richard Sacra, the third American aid worker evacuated to the United States from West Africa to be treated for Ebola, has been discharged from the hospital.

Sacra was treated at Nebraska Medical Center after contracting the deadly virus in Liberia while he worked to deliver babies. He was not treating Ebola patients.

Two other Americans have been discharged after they were successfully treated for Ebola in the United States, including another medical doctor, Kent Brantly, who later donated a unit of blood, or convalescent serum, to Sacra.

From Punch Nigeria, the first of two origins stories:

Ebola: A death courier from unclear source

THERE is no known cure for Ebola. That is about a common knowledge now. But where did Ebola come from? The source of this messenger of death is apparently unknown too.

In some parts of Africa, myths that Ebola was brought to the regions by health care workers have hurt the ability of workers to respond to the outbreak. But where did Ebola really come from?

The true reservoir for Ebola — that is, where the virus hides when it’s not causing outbreaks in people — is not known for sure, but experts say that bats are the likely source of the deadly virus.

“There’s a strong circumstantial case, but we haven’t actually got a total smoking gun,” said Derek Gatherer, a bioinformatics researcher at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

And the second, from RT America:

Accused: The US manufactured Ebola

Program notes:

The Liberian Daily Observer, which is the largest newspaper in Liberia, just published an article on their front page with the headline, “Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?” The article basically accuses the US of manufacturing this Ebola outbreak in what they call an American Military-Medical-Industry scheme to use Africa as a testing ground for bioweapons. The Resident discusses.

The story in question is here.

For our concluding item, we would also note this story from the same paper:

2-Month-Old Baby Turns Into ‘Full Grown Man’

Residents of Foquelleh in Panta District in Bong County were said to have been in unbelievable shock when a two-month-old baby, identified by family members as Smith Freeman, Tuesday, September 23, morning grew into a full grown man and escaped into the bush with his mother’s lappa.

According to the mother of the child, Lorpu Kollie, 16, on Tuesday she and the child were on their way to the farm when the child on her back tied in lappa spoke to her and told her to put him down.

She told the Daily Observer that as they approached the crossroad, the child repeated his call on the mother to untie her lappa and put him down.   As soon as she put the baby down, she continued, the two-month-old boy instantaneously began to grow into a full grown man!

Lorpu Kollie narrated that the child informed her that he (the child) was on his way back home since his grandmother, Lorpu Kollie’s mother, was in the constant practice of raining insult at him.  He even threatened bring incense and garlic into the home.

EbolaWatch: Hope, warnings, attacks, & more

First from Canada’s The National, a good overview of the Ebola crisis to date in the form of a panel discussion that hits most of the key points. Panelists include physicians Danielle Martin, Doctors Without Borders physician Tim Jagatic, and Ahmed Tijan-Sie of the University of North Carolina:

Ebola Checkup Panel

Program note:

Our health panel looks at the Ebola outbreak that has turned into a global crisis.

Next, from CCTV Africa, Kenyan physician Esther Waithira Wanjiru describes her experiences in helping to battle the outbreak in Sierra Leone:

Ebola: Kenyan Doctor returns From Sierra Leone

Program notes:

Health services in the Ebola hot zone have been overwhelmed. But medics from across Africa are answering the call for help. Among them is a young Kenyan who asked for her family’s permission to go. CCTV’s Jane Kiyo reports

And on to the days’ hard news, starting with a positive development from Star Africa News:

Ebola vaccines accessible by year’s end – WHO

The World Health Organisation has said that vaccines to treat the deadly disease Ebola ravaging West Africa may be more accessible by the end of 2014.
In a statement seen by APA on Wednesday, the WHO said the more vaccines are made available to the three worst affected countries the better it will be to contain the epidemic which has killed over 1, 660 people in the region since March.

Up till now there has been no certified vaccine to treat Ebola, which is mostly contracted by contact with victims’ body fluids.

Tests are already at an advanced stage for two types of vaccines which may be certified for use.

And the first item of grim news comes from BBC News:

Ebola-hit nations may ‘face collapse’

The Ebola outbreak threatens to become a political crisis that could unravel years of effort to stabilise West Africa, a think tank has warned.

“The worst-hit countries now face widespread chaos and, potentially, collapse,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.

The world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has caused 2,811 deaths so far, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Punch Nigeria delivers a plea:

Ebola: More hands needed in the battle

Nigeria may be out of the woods in the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, but the increasing number of cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has ensured the country cannot yet sleep with two eyes closed. Only last week, 700 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the World Health Organisation in Liberia and Sierra Leone, a development which has sent jitters across the region.

Hundreds more cases may be unearthed in the coming weeks. Findings from a joint study by officials of the WHO and the Imperial College, London, released on Monday warned that there might be more than 20,000 cases of the virus by November. To contain future outbreaks in Nigeria, however, a director of the Yale World Fellows Programme, Dr. Michael Capello, has offered to train 150 health workers on the management of the disease.

Capello, who is also a Professor of Paediatrics, Microbial Pathogenesis and Public Health, will be working in conjunction with the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, a body which coordinates private sector intervention in the management of the EVD.

From Nextgov, turning to the digital:

Scientists Turn to Computer Models to Predict Ebola’s Next Move

In the early stages of the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other aid organizations concentrated their efforts on the ground. They tried to convince patients to go to hospitals or let aid workers set up quarantine areas in their homes. Unfortunately, these and other interventions did little to slow the outbreak. According to the WHO, the number of cases has nearly doubled in the last three weeks, prompting Sierra Leone’s government to enforce a three-day lockdown over the weekend.

On September 17, WHO director general Margaret Chan said there are now at least 5,357 reported cases, including 2,630 deaths, in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal. “None of us experienced in containing outbreaks has ever seen, in our lifetimes, an emergency on this scale,” she said. She has previously said the numbers are an underestimate, as there are many unreported cases. On September 16, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the outbreak the world’s first Ebola epidemic.

As the speed of this outbreak increased, experts planning the response started relying more heavily on computer models, says Dr. Martin Meltzer. Meltzer is a senior health economist at the CDC, where he leads the Health Economics and Modeling Unit. On August 4, Meltzer started building the CDC’s Ebola models, called EbolaResponse.

From the Associated Press, another assault:

Red Cross team attacked while burying Ebola dead

A Red Cross team was attacked while collecting bodies believed to be infected with Ebola in southeastern Guinea, the latest in a string of assaults that are hindering efforts to control West Africa’s current outbreak.

One Red Cross worker is recovering after being wounded in in the neck in Tuesday’s attack in Forecariah, according to Benoit Carpentier, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Family members of the dead initially set upon the six volunteers and vandalized their cars, said Mariam Barry, a resident. Eventually a crowd went to the regional health office, where they threw rocks at the building.

The attack is the most recent in a series that have plagued teams working to bury bodies safely, provide information about Ebola and disinfect public places. The most shocking was the abduction and killing last week in Guinea of eight people, health workers educating people about Ebola and the journalists accompanying them.

Star Africa News covers a major break in an earlier and deadlier attack:

Guinea rounds up 27 suspects in massacre of anti-Ebola sensitizers

Guinea’s Justice Minister, Cheikh Sacko has announced the arrest of at the least 27 persons suspected to be involved in the violence in the town of Wome in the Forestry Guinea region during which eight people who were sensitizing the population over Ebola were killed, official sources disclosed here Wednesday.

According to the minister, the main suspect in the affair, Labile Haba was arrested in a village called Yomou near the border with Liberia.

Two other suspects were also rounded up by the security forces as they had been attempting to flee to Cote d’Ivoire to join another suspected co-author of the deadly massacre of the anti-Ebola crusaders.

Furthermore the minister has confirmed the apprehension of 22 more suspects who have already appeared before a judge.

From the Guardian, more numbers from a nationwide lockdown:

Ebola epidemic: house-to-house search in Sierra Leone reveals 358 new cases

  • Teams of volunteers also find hundreds of unburied corpses, according to leaked email from senior American diplomat

Door-to-door searches during a three-day curfew in Sierra Leone identified more than 350 suspected new cases of Ebola, according by the top US diplomat in the country.

Charge d’affairs Kathleen Fitzgibbon said teams of volunteers had also discovered 265 corpses, of which 216 have since been been buried, in an email to organisers of the curfew that has been seen by the Guardian.

Fitzgibbon said the home visits had identified a preliminary 358 new suspected cases, with 85 patients sent to treatment centres.

Although there had been some “challenges” during the curfew, which saw the normally chaotic streets of the capital Freetown replaced by eerie silence after the government ordered everyone to stay in doors, it could be seen as the “beginning of the end” of the Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 2,800 people, primarily in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The Independent covers the despicable:

4Chan’s latest, terrible ‘prank’: Convincing West Africans that Ebola doctors actually worship the disease

The message-board 4chan has been rightly blamed for many unsavory Internet things: the celebrity nude scandal, the dangerous “bikini bridge” meme, the brief virality of the self-harm hashtag #cuttingforBieber.

Now, the denizens of one of the Internet’s least-principled places are attempting to propagate another tasteless meme: She’s called Ebola-chan, and she’s some cross between a prank, a witless joke and a truly vile strain of racism.

“Have you welcomed her into your heart yet?” Asks one post on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board, /pol/. “I’m talking, of course, about Ebola-Chan. The viral goddess of love and Afrocide … Our shrines and incantations give her strength.”

Ebola-Chan is not, needless to say, a goddess anywhere outside of 4chan’s diseased imagination: The character is a /pol/ invention, a cartoon mascot for the virus that could infect half a million people within the next four months.

Liberian Observer has more new numbers — and troubles:

Ebola Weakens Liberia Food Security

Liberia has been the hardest hit country in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) with more than 3000 cases, Voice of America (VOA) reports.

With this latest development, it is reported that 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties have been affected. Some of the first cases in Liberia were reported in northern Lofa County. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (ANFAO) said, the outbreak has had a big effect on food security in the country.

The FAO has just completed a four-day assessment of Lofa County, where a three-man team visited the towns of Foya and Barkedu. The far northern area is close to the border with Guinea. That’s where the World Health Organization (WHO) reports the Ebola outbreak probably began early this year with the case of a two year old boy.

BuzzFeed covers another Liberian development:

Liberia Opens New Ebola Wards But They Won’t Be Nearly Enough

A new rural facility brings hope to the country hardest-hit in the Ebola outbreak, but experts warn Liberia could see as many as 10,000 cases in a matter of months

For once, there’s good news in rural Liberia.

Last week, the International Medical Corps opened Liberia’s newest Ebola treatment center, in rural Bong County. It’s one of only a handful of treatment centers in the country hardest-hit by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, and it’s the first treatment center to open since the disease spread from Liberia’s two key epicenters to most of the rest of the country.

The treatment center came too late for its first two patients — a 45-year-old man and his stepson, both of whom who died — but it’s an irrefutable mark of progress in a response that has been hampered by delays and malaise.

“Every week that goes by that an Ebola treatment unit doesn’t open up, we probably need to add another one or two [treatment units] on the back end. The growth is exponential now, so if there’s a delay, that means the scale of the response has to grow,” Sean Casey, the International Medical Corps’ Ebola emergency response team director, told BuzzFeed News by telephone from Bong County.

From Al Jazeera English, another complication:

Senegal gold miners hit by Ebola measures

Thousands of miners stranded as government imposes trade restrictions to contain Ebola outbreak in West Africa

The government of Senegal has placed restrictions on gold trade to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Thousands of informal gold miners living along the Senegal-Guinea border are now stranded, with no money to leave.

Punch Nigeria covers a reasonable demand:

Union demands insurance cover for nurses

The National Union of Allied Health Professionals on Tuesday demanded Personal Protective Equipment and comprehensive health insurance for its members.

The union said the first victim of the Ebola Virus Disease after the index case was a Nigerian nurse, hence nurses and other heath workers were more exposed to hazards than medical doctors.

This was contained in a communique issued by the NUAHP after its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja. President and Secretary of the union, Mr. Felix Faniran and O.C Ogbonna, respectively signed the communiqué.

Businessweek lays some blame to the North:

How the U.S. Screwed Up in the Fight Against Ebola

Since appearing in Guinea in December, Ebola has spread to five West African countries and infected 5,864 people, of which 2,811 have died, according to the World Health Organization’s Sept. 22 report. This number is widely considered an underestimate. The CDC’s worst-case model assumes that cases are “significantly under-reported” by a factor of 2.5. With that correction, the CDC predicts 21,000 total cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone alone by Sept. 30.

A confluence of factors has made it the biggest Ebola outbreak yet. For starters, West Africa has never seen Ebola before; previous outbreaks have mainly surfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. The initial symptoms of Ebola—fever, vomiting, muscle aches—are also similar to, and were mistaken for, other diseases endemic to the region, such as malaria.

Then, when officials and international workers swept into villages covered head to toe and took away patients for isolation, some family members became convinced that their relatives were dying because of what happened to them in the hospitals. They avoided medical care and lied to doctors about their travel histories. Medical staff at local hospitals became scared and quit their jobs. Aid workers trying to set up isolation units or trace infected people’s contacts were attacked by angry villagers. With these countries short on resources, staff, medical equipment, and basic understanding of the disease, Ebola took hold and spread.

The San Francisco Chronicle covers consciousness-raising in an unlikely setting:

Nurses simulate Ebola deaths on Vegas Strip

U.S. hospitals aren’t ready for an Ebola outbreak, according to nurses who staged a “die-in” Wednesday outside a Las Vegas Strip resort where they are holding a union convention.

A union spokesman pointed to a recent case of a patient tested for Ebola at a northern California hospital and said nurses don’t believe U.S. hospitals have the training, equipment and isolated areas where patients with the deadly virus could be quarantined.

“If there’s disaster plans in hospitals, the people who are supposed to implement them aren’t aware of them,” said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Many protesters in the crowd of perhaps 1,000 wore bright red T-shirts, and several hundred wore suits resembling hazardous materials gear as they crossed Las Vegas Boulevard from the Planet Hollywood to Bellagio resorts.

And the Guardian warns:

US hospitals ‘unprepared’ to safely handle infectious Ebola waste

  • Waste management companies refusing to haul waste citing federal guidelines requiring special packaging for Ebola waste

US hospitals may be unprepared to safely dispose of the infectious waste generated by any Ebola virus disease patient to arrive unannounced in the country, potentially putting the wider community at risk, biosafety experts said.

Waste management companies are refusing to haul away the soiled sheets and virus-spattered protective gear associated with treating the disease, citing federal guidelines that require Ebola-related waste to be handled in special packaging by people with hazardous materials training, infectious disease and biosafety experts told Reuters.

Many US hospitals are unaware of the regulatory snafu, which experts say could threaten their ability to treat any person who develops Ebola in the US after coming from an infected region. It can take as long as 21 days to develop Ebola symptoms after exposure.

From People’s Daily, more assistance:

China offers Ebola prevention materials to Benin

The Chinese government has offered Benin materials worth 840,000 U.S. dollars for the prevention of Ebola virus, an official source in Cotonou has said.

An agreement in this regard was signed on Monday in Cotonou between Benin’s Foreign Minister Arifari Bako Nassirou and China’s ambassador to Benin Tao Weiguang.

Besides this gesture by the Chinese government, the ambassador announced that the Chinese Embassy will give 10 million CFA Francs (20,000 U.S. dollars) to Benin Red Cross to help it prepare to fight against Ebola.

And for our final item, Reuters reassures:

Scientists see risk of mutant airborne Ebola as remote

The Ebola virus raging through West Africa is mutating rapidly as it tears a deadly path through cities, towns and villages, but the genetic changes are for now not giving it the ability to spread more easily.

Concern that the virus could gain capability to transmit through the air – creating a nightmare scenario of the disease being able to spread like a flu pandemic, killing millions – was fueled by a top infectious disease expert in the United States.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said in an opinion article he believed the risk of airborne Ebola is real, and warned: “Until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.”

Yet many other virus and infectious disease specialists say that while the prospect of an airborne Ebola virus is not impossible, it is extremely remote.

EbolaWatch: Stark warnings, ongoing struggle

And please do read after the jump for our extensive reports on the epidemic form the African press, coverage we believe is critical for understanding the impacts of this unprecedented outbreak.

We begin with the alarm, via the Los Angeles Times:

Ebola could soar to 1.4 million cases in two countries, CDC says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to release a report Tuesday that predicts the number of Ebola cases in just two of the hardest-hit countries could hit 1.4 million within four months, according to the Associated Press.

By late January, the nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone could see anywhere from 550,000 to 1.4 million Ebola cases, according to a draft of the CDC report obtained by the AP.

Both countries have seen an exponential growth in cases in recent weeks, but the CDC report is based on the belief that even those numbers don’t show the full picture and that cases are being vastly underreported.

The latest official numbers released Monday by the World Health Organization put the total number of suspected and confirmed Ebola deaths in West Africa at 2,811 and the total number of cases at 5,864. Liberia and Sierra Leone make up the vast majority, or 4,835, of those cases.

More from the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak shocked unprepared developed countries, says CDC health agency

  • Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says epidemic’s impact would have been less if west had invested earlier

Developed countries were not properly prepared for the outbreak of ebola in west Africa, the American agency leading the fight against the deadly disease has said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the impact of the epidemic would have been reduced if the west had invested in vulnerable countries.

“Responding to a flood by building a dam as the waters are floating past you really just doesn’t work,” said a CDC “disease detective”, Dr Leisha Nolen. “You need to make the dam before the rain starts.”

From the New York Times, the hidden deaths:

Fresh Graves Point to Undercount of Ebola Toll

The Ebola epidemic is spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone’s densely packed capital — and it may already be far worse than the authorities acknowledge.

Since the beginning of the outbreak more than six months ago, the Sierra Leone Health Ministry reported only 10 confirmed Ebola deaths here in Freetown, the capital of more than one million people, and its suburbs as of Sunday — a hopeful sign that this city, unlike the capital of neighboring Liberia, had been relatively spared the ravages of the outbreak.

But the bodies pouring in to the graveyard tell a different story. In the last eight days alone, 110 Ebola victims have been buried at King Tom Cemetery, according to the supervisor, Abdul Rahman Parker, suggesting an outbreak that is much more deadly than either the government or international health officials have announced.

From BBC News, another number:

Ebola death rates 70% – WHO study

New figures suggest 70% of those infected with Ebola in West Africa have died, higher than previously reported, says the World Health Organization.

Ebola infections will treble to 20,000 by November if efforts to tackle the outbreak are not stepped up, the UN agency has warned.

In the worst case scenario, cases in two nations could reach 1.4 million in January, according to a US estimate.

Experts said the US numbers were “somewhat pessimistic’‘.

Bloomberg covers needs:

Massive Aid Needed for Ebola Outbreak as Outlook Worsens

Massive amounts of supplies and additional health workers are still needed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to help control the Ebola outbreak there that may grow to more than 1 million infections under one worst-case scenario, according to aid agencies.

Curbing the virus will require 1,000 more international medical personnel as well as 20,000 local residents who know the area well and can work as doctors, nurses, communication specialists, burial teams, contact tracers and trainers, said Dan Epstein, a spokesman for the World Health Organization.

While the U.S. has committed 3,000 troops to the region, that may not be enough help. “There are people who haven’t been trained; there are other people available who haven’t been deployed yet or who have been working on something else,” he said in a telephone interview. “We need people from the public sector and private sector as well. We need lots of people.”

From Reuters, partially good news:

Ebola toll passes 2,800 but ‘contained’ in Senegal, Nigeria : WHO

An outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has been largely contained in Senegal and Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, but the disease is still spreading elsewhere and has now killed over 2,811 people in the region.

Senegal and Nigeria, the most recent of five nations to record cases of Ebola, implemented strict measures to isolate the ill and track down further possible cases — steps that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have failed to impose, allowing the disease to take hold in cities and rural communities.

Sierra Leone said it had registered 130 new cases of Ebola during a three-day national lockdown that ended late on Sunday, the most radical move yet to try to contain a disease that has killed around half of those it infects and is crippling some of the weakest countries in West Africa.

From the Liberian Observer, the newest player:

New UN Mission on Ebola Established

The United Nations has established and new agency known as United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

The establishment comes following UN Security Council meeting in New York which adopted a resolution to urgently and promptly respond to the Ebola crisis in four West African Countries including Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The UN General Assembly having adopted the resolution on Monday, September 22 following the Security Council’s resolution, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said, “I have now established the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).”

The mission, according to a dispatch from New York will be headquartered in Ghana to oversee Ebola activities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that are highly hit by the Ebola virus.

Drugs on the way, via the Guardian:

Ebola epidemic: experimental drugs to be rushed to Africa

  • Vaccine trials under way as experts fear disease could become endemic in worst-hit areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia

Experimental drugs are to be fast-tracked into west Africa so that they can be tested and, if they work, save lives in the Ebola epidemic that experts say is spiralling out of control.

Trials of vaccines are already in their early stages, with healthy British volunteers taking part in safety tests in the UK. The Wellcome Trust is committing £3.2m to set up sites, systems and faciities for drug-testing across the affected countries as well.

Healthcare systems in the three worst-hit countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, fragile to begin with, have largely collapsed under the strain of coping with what may prove to be one of the most serious viral disease outbreaks the world has ever known.

A call from the UK government for NHS volunteers to go out and help has so far led to 164 healthcare staff signing up. A similar appeal at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine by its director, Professor Peter Piot, has resulted in 35 staff volunteering so far. There is a particular need for trained nurses, clinicians, diagnostic laboratory technicians and sanitation experts, Piot told the school.

Another treatment in the offing from News Corp Australia:

Scientists say a treatment plan for Ebola is set to be trialled as US warns virus could infect 1.4 million

BRITISH scientists plan to trial prototype Ebola treatments in West Africa for the first time, as authorities warn 1.4 million people could be infected by 2015.

The Wellcome Trust, a British biomedical research charity, which is funding the effort with a 3.2 million pounds ($5.8 million) grant, announced the first trials on Tuesday.

The charity said there had been some experiments with treatments already, “but none has yet been tested for efficacy and safety in humans with Ebola” and scientists underlined that months of cautious work lay ahead.

David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, suggested that plasmapheresis, where serum is taken from survivors and their antibodies given to patients, could be a valuable tool in the battle to contain the epidemic.

Bloomberg covers another casualty:

World Bank Says Ebola’s Spread May Have Catastrophic Cost

The World Bank warned that the economic costs of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will escalate to “catastrophic” proportions if the virus spreads, while Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama criticized the international response to the disease.

“If other countries in the vicinity in the subregion of West Africa fail to do what Nigeria and Senegal have done — which is to keep things under control — then the costs will become much much larger,” Francisco Ferreira, World Bank chief economist for Africa, said in a Sept. 19 interview in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

The spread of the virus may cost Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three nations where most infections have taken place, as much as $809 million, the World Bank said on Sept. 17. Early findings of the lender’s research into the economic risks of the disease spreading to other countries show the damage could be more severe, he said.

From BBC News, another emergency measure:

Liberia signs ‘transformational’ deal to stem deforestation

Liberia is to become the first nation in Africa to completely stop cutting down its trees in return for development aid. Norway will pay the impoverished West African country $150m (£91.4m) to stop deforestation by 2020.

There have been fears that the Ebola crisis would see increased logging in a country desperate for cash.

Norwegian officials confirmed details of the deal to the BBC at the UN climate summit in New York.

Star Africa News covers help arrived:

More shipments for US response to Ebola epidemic arrive in Liberia

More than 50 US military personnel, including engineers and airfield specialists, have been brought in as part of the advance team of the US military mission to Liberia.

Also, a total of three C-17 US military aircraft have so far flown into Liberia with assorted military equipment and personnel for the anti-Ebola fight. The cargo includes heavy duty engineering equipment, medical supplies, and other items.

According to a press release, the Commander of the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element, Major Matthew Rivera, said his mission at the airport is to ensure supplies and troops are brought in safely for the smooth execution of their operation.

Another source of assistance with Want China Times:

Sierra Leone and China sign protocols to fight Ebola

The Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone, Zhao Yanbo, on Monday reiterated China’s commitment to assist Sierra Leone with the challenges of the Ebola outbreak.

Speaking at the signing of the formal protocols of the newly arrived Chinese medical team in the West African country, Zhao recalled the 2003 SARS epidemic and said China cannot afford to leave Sierra Leone fighting the Ebola outbreak alone.

He said they would help provide the necessary network to help handle some of the major challenges of tackling the outbreak of the deadly virus.

After the jump, two suspected cases isolated in Europe [an an African, the other a European doctor bitten by a patient], an Australian healed, and detailed coverage of the outbreak for the African press, including overtaxed and missing facilities in Liberia, healthcare workers facing eviction, American training in epidemiology 101 for Liberian cops, a regional alert, news moves to isolate the sick, critical education for women, a women’s group tackles cross-border issues, mixed results [including extensive arrests] from the Sierra Leone lockdown, and anticipatory moves in Ghana. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Dire scenarios, complications, aid

Lots of ground to cover today, so we begin with a dire warning, via Bloomberg:

Ebola Worst-Case Scenario Has More Than 500,000 Cases

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.

The report, scheduled to be released next week, was described by two people familiar with its contents, who asked to remain anonymous because it isn’t yet public.

The projection, which vastly outstrips previous estimates, is under review by researchers and may change. It assumes no additional aid or intervention by governments and relief agencies, which are mobilizing to contain the Ebola outbreak before it spirals further out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

And a complication, via Reuters:

Killings in Guinea show mistrust in Africa Ebola fight: WHO

The killing in Guinea of eight people trying to educate locals about Ebola showed how much rural populations in West Africa mistrust authorities after years of instability and conflict, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Eight bodies were found after an attack on a team visiting remote southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday, showing the dangers faced by health workers fighting the deadly virus that is surrounded by suspicion and stigma.

Guinea was crippled by decades of corruption and political instability, and the other countries worst hit by the outbreak, Sierra Leone and Liberia, suffered civil wars in the 1990s. The legacy of these traumas now poses a risk to health workers battling Ebola, WHO expert Pierre Formenty said.

“This population in the forested area has really suffered a lot in the last 20 years. They are in a post-conflict behavior, there is lack of trust obviously between these populations and the different governments for the three countries,” Formenty told a news briefing in Geneva upon return from Liberia.

A further complication, via CCTV Africa:

Africa’s Food Security: FAO issues alert for Ebola affected countries

Program notes:

One in nine people — suffer from hunger. The latest UN report shows a decrease in world hunger, but fresh conflicts and the Ebola crisis is slowing down Africa’s efforts. Maria Galang has more.

Yet another, via Vice News:

Left to Die: Liberia’s Ebola Victims Have Nowhere to Turn as Treatment Centers Overflow

With the onset of Ebola, Liberia’s healthcare system is completely overstretched. People are dying of treatable diseases because they can’t get into hospitals, and pregnant women are giving birth in the street. Everything is collapsing.

An official familiar with the peace-building commission at the United Nations, which includes Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, said that one of the dangers of the current situation is that in fragile countries like Liberia, which is still recovering after 14 years of civil war, is that all problems in a country coming out of conflict are exacerbated: mistrust of state institutions, poverty, security issues, and distrust in government. “You’re looking at food prices going up and schools closed, wages not being paid, businesses wrecked,” said the official.

“Rightly so everyone is focused on the health crisis, but once the disease is halted, all these problems are going to need to be dealt with, and it’s things these countries were making progress with and all that progress is turned back,” he said.

From Bloomberg, yet another complication:

Ebola Is Katrina Moment for WHO’s Chan Hobbled by Budget

When Margaret Chan was elected to lead the World Health Organization, she said the agency’s priority was to improve the health of people in Africa.

Eight years later, the 67-year-old Chan is under attack for letting an Ebola outbreak there spiral beyond control, and this week her group found itself eclipsed as the leader of humanitarian efforts to control the epidemic.

The United Nations said it would create a separate Health Mission to coordinate care in West Africa, and the U.S. announced it would send 3,000 troops to build hospitals there. Those plans come after Chan delayed designating the outbreak as a global emergency until thousands were infected in three countries, and in the wake of complaints her agency had done too little to manage the response. Now, the WHO is in the awkward spot of being little more than a voice in the crowd, critics suggest, and Chan is seen by some as being partly to blame.

Punch Nigeria issues a plea:

UN seeks support for Liberia, others over Ebola

Mrs Jane Giogh, United Nations Children’s Education Fund representative in Nigeria, has appealed to countries with adequate human resources capacity to assist Liberia and Sierra-Leone to fight Ebola disease.

Giogh made the call in Port Harcourt on Friday in a chat with newsmen.

She said Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Guinea that were being ravaged by the disease had less human and financial capacities.

Star Africa News covers aid arrival:

First shipment of US military response to Ebola arrives in Liberia

A US military aircraft arrived in Liberia on Thursday with the first shipment of US military equipment and personnel for the anti-Ebola fight, in line with the promise made by President Barack Obama in his September 16 speech at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to a press statement received by APA Friday, the cargo included a heavy duty forklift, a drill set and generator and a team of 7 military personnel, including engineers and airfield specialists. The personnel are here to quickly assess the payload and stability of airport runways and the forklift will be used to offload incoming supplies.

The statement said an additional large military aircraft transporting more personnel and supplies, are expected to arrive in Monrovia in the coming days.

It adds that Major General Darryl Williams, in his capacity as Commander of US Army Africa and Operation United Assistance, has been in Liberia since Tuesday, meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other senior Liberian government officials to discuss the stepped up US response to the Ebola crisis.

CCTV Africa covers a second mission:

Ebola: AU to Send Second Medical Team to West Africa

Program notes:

The African Union is set to send a second Ebola response team to West Africa. This will be part of the organisation’s larger efforts to deploy experts over a six month period. However funding still remains a concern. Here’s CCTV’s Girum Chala with more details on that story.

From the Los Angeles Times, yet another complication and a profound moral issue:

A looming problem: How to ration Ebola vaccines and medicines

For doctors and public health officials trying to contain the Ebola epidemic, the dearth of drugs and vaccines is only part of the problem. Once these medicines become available, there certainly won’t be enough of them to go around.

So experts are devising ways to ration the precious products — and that forces them to ask some difficult questions:

Is the life of a physician worth more than a truck driver? Is a foreign aid worker more deserving of a vaccine than a nurse who lives in West Africa? Is it fair to turn thousands of at-risk people into clinical trial guinea pigs?

“It’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University.

Reuters covers drastic measures:

Ebola lockdown brings Sierra Leone capital to a halt

Streets in the capital of Sierra Leone were deserted on Friday as the West African state began a contested, three-day lockdown in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

President Ernest Bai Koroma urged people to heed the emergency measures, and only vehicles driven by police and health workers took to the normally bustling roads of Freetown.

Radio stations played Ebola awareness jingles on repeat and encouraged residents to stay indoors.

Nearly 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers aim to visit every household in the country of six million people by Sunday to educate them about the disease and isolate the sick.

From Businessweek, context:

Sierra Leone Ebola Burial Teams Struggle as Bodies Decompose

Ebola burial teams in Sierra Leone can’t keep up with the rising number of dead, and some bodies are left to decompose at home for days as test results for the virus are slow to arrive.

“We are overwhelmed as we bury between 20 to 30 corpses a day,” Sas Kargbo, head coordinator for Sierra Leone’s burial teams, said in an interview in the capital, Freetown. “We want capacity to determine the cause of death in 24 hours so that those who did not die of Ebola will be buried with dignity.”

President Ernest Bai Koroma on Aug. 7 ordered that corpses can’t be buried without the Ministry of Health’s authorization. The measure was meant to stop the virus from spreading by preventing people from organizing funerals for relatives. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected patient, including a deceased person, according to the World Health Organization.

BBC News lends a hand:

Ebola aid donated by UK to Sierra Leone

The UK is donating hundreds of hospital beds to Sierra Leone as it fights to contain the Ebola virus.

Of the 700 beds to be donated, 200 are “in the pipeline”, with the remaining 500 to be handed over in coming months. British army engineers will also identify sites in Sierra Leone where treatment centres can be built.

Vickie Hawkins, executive director of the main Ebola aid agency in West Africa, Medecins San Frontiers, welcomed the “increased commitment of resources from the UK government”.

From the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, measures to protect a huge gathering with participants from around the globe:

Hajj & Ebola: Pilgrims from Ebola infected countries will not attend

Program notes:

The Hajj Board says Ghana will not be used as a transit point for would-be pilgrims from any of the Ebola infected countries that have been denied visas into Saudi Arabia. This comes on the heels of the refusal by Saudi Arabia to grant visas to prospective pilgrims from Ebola-affected countries for fear of transmitting the virus. GBC visits the Hajj Village in Accra to find out whether any of the citizens from these infected countries have made their way into Ghana to travel to Mecca.

From Reuters, a reprieve:

Senegal says no risk of Ebola spreading from imported case

Senegal’s health minister said on Friday there was no further risk of Ebola spreading in the West African country, following the end of a quarantine period for those who came into contact with an infected Guinean man.

“The risk of the Ebola virus spreading from the imported case is non-existent for our country,” Awa Marie Coll Seck told a news conference.

Another clearance, from Punch Nigeria:

Lagos clears last Ebola suspect

The Lagos State Government on Friday said the last suspected case of the Ebola Virus Disease in the state had been cleared having tested negative after surveillance.

Gov. Babatunde Fashola disclosed this while giving an update on the virus at the Secretariat Central Mosque, Alausa, where he observed Jumat Prayers.

The governor said the development meant that the state was now Ebola free and that it was safe enough for schools to resume on Sept. 22.

Punch Nigeria with another clearance of sorts:

Ebola: Rivers, Oyo schools to resume Oct 6

The Rivers and Oyo states governments have declared October 6, 2014 as the resumption date for all public and private primary and secondary schools.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, who disclosed this on Friday while speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt, the capital city, said schools in Rivers would not resume on September 22, 2014 as earlier announced by the Federal Government as a result of the ongoing surveillance of some Ebola contacts.

He said, “We currently have 253 contacts under surveillance and we hope that by weekend, the number would have come down significantly. We expect that quite a number of those under surveillance would have been discharged in batches.

For our final item, the Washington Post offers qualified reassurance for the other side of the Atlantic:

Ebola outbreak in the U.S.? Probably not happening.

If the deadliest outbreak in history continues at its current pace, the probability of an exportation of Ebola to the United States by the end of September is between 3 and 15 percent, according to Alessandro Vespignani, a Northeastern University professor whose team has been continuously updating its model.

That range, Vespignani said, reflects the the best- and worst-case scenarios.

“These are relatively small probabilities,” Vespignani said in an interview this week. “If we have very good screening procedures, then the probability could be less. If we consider the worst-case scenario, we have basically a 15 percent probability.”