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
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
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.