Category Archives: Economy

EbolaWatch: Fears in Texas, latest from Africa


For Americans, the major Ebola news — and hopefully a story that will kindle their compassion for the plight of West Africa — is the arrival of the disease in the form of a walk-pin patient from Liberia and turned away from a Dallas hospital.

But before we get to the story of the day, two other headlines, first from RT:

Ebola worse than HIV, SARS – UN official

The man leading the UN response to the Ebola epidemic, Dr. David Nabaro, says Ebola poses a worse threat to humanity than HIV or SARS and the global effort to combat it is woefully inefficient and that he needs $30 million now.

Nabaro was speaking after various presentations on how to combat the disease, including at the UN Security Council and General Assembly, before he returns to Europe and West Africa, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ebola has so-far been centered on the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and has infected 6,553 people and killed 3,083. So far the outbreak looks like it’s been arrested in neighboring Senegal and Nigeria, but the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that if it is not contained Ebola may infect 1.4 million by January.

And second, via Reuters:

World Bank chief says Ebola outbreak shows harm of inequality

Fighting the Ebola epidemic means confronting the issue of inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing the deadly virus, the head of the World Bank said.

Three poor countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have seen their health systems overwhelmed by the worst outbreak of the disease on record. The epidemic has killed at least 3,000 people in the region.

“Now, thousands of people in these (three) countries are dying because, in the lottery of birth, they were born in the wrong place,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in prepared remarks at Howard University in Washington.

“This … shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem.”

Now to Texas, first with KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas:

Dallas patient in serious condition with Ebola

A Dallas hospital patient has tested positive for Ebola, the first case ever diagnosed in the United States.

The patient, currently in serious condition, is at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Officials at the hospital admitted on Wednesday the patient told a nurse on his initial visit he had been in West Africa, but due to a communication breakdown he was sent home. He returned to the hospital two days later in an ambulance.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. said that the patient did not show any symptoms when leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 or entering the U.S. on Sept. 20.

United Airlines said Wednesday it believes the patient spent part of his flights out of Africa to the U.S. on United flights. United believes he was on a Brussels to Washington Dulles Flight 951 and Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth Flight 822 on Sept. 20. Officials said there is no risk to anyone on those flights.

The patient, identified by relatives as Thomas Eric Duncan, was staying at the Ivy Apartments on Fair Oaks Avenue in Dallas. The complex is just southeast of the hospital where he’s being treated.

More from the Guardian:

Man diagnosed with Ebola virus in US was sent home for two days

  • Dallas hospital says patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen, as officials urge people not to panic

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa during the latest outbreak was sent home with a course of antibiotics for two days after seeking medical care at a Dallas hospital last week, a hospital official said.

The patient, believed to be male, was admitted to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on Sunday, after coming to the same hospital two days before.

Edward Goodman, the infectious disease specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, told National Public Radio that the patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen. Goodman said: “He was evaluated for his illness, which was very nondescript. He had some laboratory tests, which were not very impressive, and he was dismissed with some antibiotics.”

Medical officials in the US announced on Tuesday that tests confirmed the man, who had travelled from Liberia, had Ebola.

Still more from CNBC:

US Ebola patient said he was from Liberia: Sister

The sister of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States says he told relatives he notified officials the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting from Liberia.

The individual claiming to be the patient’s sister said he went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and they sent him home with antibiotics. She says he said hospital officials asked for his Social Security number and he said that he didn’t have one because he was visiting from Liberia.

The patient arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to be with relatives in Dallas. He began to develop symptoms last Wednesday and sought care two days later. He was released and returned to the hospital and was admitted Sunday.

A video report from RT America:

Dallas hospital sent Ebola patient home despite exhibiting symptoms

Program notes:

Doctors confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola inside the US. Thomas Eric Duncan is in serious but stable condition after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. He first exhibited symptoms of the virus on September 26 and went to the same hospital where he is now being treated, but was sent home without being tested despite his recent arrival from Liberia. RT’s Manila Chan has more details on the response to the diagnosis and the seeming lapse in protocol.

Reuters poses necessary questions:

Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient

For months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning American hospitals that Ebola was just a plane ride away. The CDC has urged hospital emergency department staff to ask patients whether they have recently traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola since the West African outbreak was first reported in a remote forest region of Guinea in March.

It was only on that second visit on Sunday, however, that the hospital learned that the patient had recently arrived in the United States from Liberia and admitted him to an isolation unit.

Dr. Goodman said the hospital is reviewing what they might have missed on the patient’s initial visit. “Our staff is thoroughly trained on infectious disease protocols. We have been meeting literally for weeks in anticipation of such an event,” he said.

While the New York Times looks at practical epidemiology:

After Ebola Case in Dallas, Health Officials Seek Those Who Had Contact With Patient

Although the man flew into the country about 10 days ago on a commercial airliner, officials said that he had shown no symptoms of the disease while on the flight and that he had posed no threat to other passengers.

Officials are focused on finding people who came into contact with the man after he began showing symptoms, on Sept. 24. As a patient becomes sicker and the virus replicates in the body, the likelihood of the disease spreading grows.

Dallas County officials said Wednesday they believed the man had come into contact with 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms. So far, none has been confirmed infected.

More from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: Texas children ‘monitored for symptoms’

Schoolchildren have come into contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, the governor of Texas has said.

At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Rick Perry said the children were being monitored “at home” for symptoms.

The patient is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before coming to the US nearly two weeks ago. He is in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

“Today we learned that some school-age children had been identified as having had contact with the patient and are now being monitored at home for any signs of the disease,” Mr Perry said.

And the New York Times tracks down the exposure route:

U.S. Patient Aided Pregnant Liberian, Then Took Ill

  • Liberian Officials Identify Ebola Victim in Texas as Thomas Eric Duncan

A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s.

Mr. Duncan, the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic, had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola on Sept. 15, just four days before he left Liberia for the United States, the woman’s parents and Mr. Duncan’s neighbors said.

In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with Mr. Duncan’s help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.

From International Business Times, contagion?:

Possible Second US Ebola Patient Being Monitored In Dallas

Health officials in Dallas are monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly virus, the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday. Everyone who had close contact with the man officially diagnosed is being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson told WFAA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”

International Business Times again, with another impact:

Ebola In The US: Liberian-Americans On Edge After First Virus Diagnosis In America

The Liberian-American community is on edge following the diagnosis of the first case of the Ebola virus in the U.S., both out of fear of discrimination and concerns that it will be more difficult to visit family back home in West Africa. A man in Texas was confirmed as the first U.S. Ebola case Tuesday and there’s a possibility that he also may have infected more than a dozen other people.

“We were shocked when we first heard about the case,” said Nathaniel Kerkulah, chairman of the Oregon Association for Liberia, a nonprofit in Portland composed of Liberian immigrants. “This is something that our community has been on the watchout for. We as a community have to watch out for friends who are moving back and forth.”

He said a Liberian-American woman who had been in the United States for 10 years recently brought her sick American-born child to a hospital and was greeted with panic. “Everybody kind of separated themselves from her, running away from her,” Kerkulah said. “When you say, ‘I’m from Liberia,’ people have that fear.”

From Voice of America, high-flying anxiety:

Concerned, US Airlines Contact Government About Ebola

U.S. airlines and their trade group Airlines for America are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on actions the U.S. government is taking to address Ebola health concerns, according to a spokesperson for JetBlue.

The statement comes a day after the first case of the deadly virus was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, prompting concerns that others may have been exposed to Ebola before the victim sought hospital treatment. According to U.S. health officials, the man sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20.

The first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with an Ebola infection traveled from Liberia to Texas via Brussels, Canadian chief public health officer Greg Taylor said on Wednesday.

USA Today reassures:

Health officials see low risk of Ebola on flights

Health officials say the risk of spreading Ebola through airline travel is low, even though a man who traveled from Liberia to the United States was diagnosed with the disease, because travelers from affected countries are screened before boarding and the often fatal disease is not transmitted when an infected person has no symptoms.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has infected 6,500 people and killed 3,000, has prompted screening of travelers for fever at airports across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and in Lagos, Nigeria.

The patient diagnosed Tuesday in Dallas had flown Sept. 19 from Liberia and arrived in the USA on Sept. 20. He had passed the fever screening and developed symptoms only on Sept. 24. He sought treatment Sept. 26.

As does the Los Angeles Times:

Could an Africa-sized Ebola outbreak happen in U.S.? Officials say no

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died in West Africa during the worst outbreak ever of Ebola. But public health officials are confident that the United States will not confront a similar crisis and point to the nation’s modern medical and public health system, past experience and the nature of the disease for their optimism.

“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Tuesday, announcing the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. “The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

Frieden’s words were designed to reassure a public whose movie, television and reading fare for generations has included a killer disease – usually coming out of Africa – that spreads seemingly without end until heroic doctors fight a difficult battle that is narrowly won at the end, saving humanity.

And from the CDC, preparations in hand:

CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.

  • Hospitalized patient had recently returned from West Africa; active contact tracing underway

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person, and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

From CNBC, inquiring minds want to know:

What preppers are doing about Ebola

“I think that a lot of people who are involved in the preparedness community already have the supplies to handle a wide variety of crises,” said Daisy Luther, who runs The Organic Prepper blog.

“Many of us do keep pandemic supplies on hand: things like nitrile gloves, N95 and N100 masks and sanitation supplies. Others who have been aware of the need but who have not yet made the purchases will very likely be on Amazon, ordering the necessary supplies, just in case this does turn into a pandemic.”

People with closer ties to the survivalist retail world, though say they do expect to see some kind of sales bump. (Early figures from Amazon bear this out; as of Wednesday sales of a type of full-body protective suits were up 131,000 percent and sales for one type of mask had risen 18,000 percent in 24 hours. Amazon does not give actual sales figures.)

And from Taiwan, an unusual declaration via the China Post:

US Ebola report does not warrant travel alert: gov’t

There is no need to issue a health advisory against travel to the United States in the wake of the country’s first reported case of Ebola, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.

The public does not need to overreact as the U.S. has a well-established public health and medical care system, said CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw.

Although Taiwan is not planning to issue a travel alert for the U.S., the CDC has been watching the international outbreak closely and is carrying out clinical drills nationwide, he said.

While CBC News mulls north-of-the-border anxieties:

Ebola risk low, but some infections expected, says B.C. medical officer

  • System in place to screen people arriving with symptoms from Africa

B.C.’s provincial health officer says it would not be surprising to see cases of the Ebola virus appear, but that there is no reason for alarm.

“We likely think over the next six months [we’ll] probably import a case or two, or maybe even three,” Dr. Perry Kendall told CBC News.

“But the chances of them — once they’re in hospital and isolated — infecting anybody else is slim.” The province is prepared to deal with such cases, should they arise, he said.

And the London Daily Mail highlights fear in Old Blighty:

Did US Ebola victim change flights at Heathrow? Patient flew from Liberia to Brussels but route to Dallas could have taken him through London

  • It is feared that as many as 12 Americans may have become infected through contact with the patient
  • A second male patient, who came in close contact with several children, is being watched today as his condition was upgraded to serious
  • First male patient who traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia is quarantined at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
  • He is first person diagnosed with Ebola in U.S. as CDC ‘disease detectives’ arrived in Texas today to track down anyone he came in contact with
  • Patient arrived in U.S. on September 20 – after flying from Liberia via Brussels in Belgium – but did not develop symptoms until September 24
  • He attended Texas Health Presbyterian on September 26 – but was dismissed with antibiotics
  • He was rushed to hospital vomiting two days later by EMTs

Now on to the continent where the real tragedy is unfolding, first with Punch Nigeria:

Experts develop harmonised message on Ebola

Regional and international communication experts have developed a harmonised message to address the information gap in national and regional responses to the Ebola Virus Disease which has claimed more than 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the West African region.

A statement by the Economic Community of West African States Commission on Wednesday in Abuja, stated that in addition to the strategic and key behaviour change messages designed to sensitise and elicit appropriate actions from targeted audiences in the Ebola affected and non-affected countries, the experts also identified appropriate channels for the transmission of the messages.

It said that the message, the outcome of a workshop in Accra held between September 29 and 30,2014, was crafted in simple, direct and action-oriented language to elicit maximum impact and responses from the target audiences for the effective prevention, containment, management and control of the deadly Ebola disease.

The statement identified the target audiences for the messages to include the public, communities, traditional and religious leaders, infected persons, their families, survivors, health workers, and border communities.

Others are educational institutions, armed and security forces, the private sector, hunters and bush meat sellers, traditional healers and birth attendants, nursing mothers, mortuary attendants and the media.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation, collateral damage in West Africa:

W. Africa Ebola crisis hits tourism, compounds hunger in Gambia

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says.

Tourism is a significant source of income for the country, and even though Gambia has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 percent compared to last year, said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the U.N. representative for Gambia.

“In 2011-12 we had the floods and droughts, then in 2013 we had the birds eating all the crops, and now we have Ebola threatening the tourist industry, a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income,” Lekoetje told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a donor gathering in Dakar.

“The government is keen to emphasise Gambia is Ebola-free,” she added, noting that the true impact of the outbreak will not be known until after the tourist high season from October to April.

After the jump, the body count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, American boots on the ground in Liberia and a major general’s vow, Ebola hits Liberia’s army, a government near-shutdown, a pay increase and death benefit promised for public health staff, buoying hope and help in a hard-hit community, malaria and other deaths rise because of overtaxed healthcare workers — and a legislator’s daughter dies, schools remain closed, UN extends its mission to Liberia, Ebola crisis aid eases Monrovia’s deficit, then off to Sierra Leone and a hospital from hell as Ebola continues to rage, with cultural outrage over burial practices, more British financial help, and educational takes to the airwaves, then to Nigeria and an epidemic vanquished [though there’s some editorial umbrage], plus a win on the media front, a call for blood, rules for reporting, and why America’s first Ebola case sparked major rallies for two stocks. . . Continue reading

Profiteering banksters and European separatism


From the Real News Network, a Mike McGuire interview Benedictine nun and theologist Sister Teresa Forcades, a physician with a doctorate in public health who is a prominent activist in the movement to detach Catalonia from Spain.

The focus is on the role banksters and the austerian neoliberal Eurocrats who have enabled their rampage of looting in Southern Europe.

From The Real News Network:

Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe

From the transcript:

MCGUIRE: And it’s not just in Catalonia. It’s all over Spain. The context where this exchange of money is happening is also one of devastatingly high unemployment, especially among youth, correct?

FORCADES: Right. I can give you the numbers. It’s–like, general unemployment rate is greater than 25 percent–that’s one-fourth, one of every four people. But among young people it’s 50 percent, so one out of every two. And this is also in the context, as I said, of a situation that makes this social precariousness, right, go worse because of the political decisions that are being made. Yes, that’s right.

And also I wanted to add something, which is, when we speak of this crisis, right, we have to remember that in Spain the total debt at the beginning of the crisis, 2007, was–public debt was only 19 percent. That’s less than the U.S. debt, much less than that, and, actually, one of the lowest in the whole Europe. So this idea that Spain had not done the things right and that’s why the state itself had such a big debt, that’s not true. It had a 19 percent debt. The 81 percent was private debt, and that is, of course, not only banks–also private families, small businesses.. But that’s a very minor part of the private debt. So the greatest, more than 90 percent of the private debt, which is 81 percent of the total debt, that was big institutions, big corporations, and particularly banking institutions.

So the decision was made: like in the States, also here the banks were rescued, at a greater cost, or really great cost. So in Spain, the same thing, right? We cannot let these big institutions fall, because everybody would fall after them. So now we’re going to do this operation of giving money to them. We don’t have the money; we have to lend the money from the European bank. And then [in comes (?)] this mechanism that I explained. So that is what has happened, and many people, as I said, think this should be reversed.

And so we, in our movement, but also many other movements, are calling for something similar to what has happened in Ecuador with President Correa, which is they also were under the debt that actually precluded the evolution or the growth of the country, because such a great percentage of their total gain were needed to pay the interests of the debt, right? That’s a perverse mechanism. Actually, I think in truth we can call that a slavery mechanism. And that is what we now have agreed to, right, as a country.

EnviroWatch: Illness, climate, nukes, & fuels


And so much more.

We begin with a mysterious outbreak here in the U.S. via the Washington Post:

CDC probing reports of paralysis in 9 Colorado children, including some with Enterovirus 68

Several children in Colorado, including some that have tested positive for the Enterovirus 68 respiratory illness, also reported neurological symptoms including muscle weakness and paralysis.

Colorado health officials say nine children were identified between Aug. 8 and Sept. 17 after they developed neurological symptoms that are not commonly associated with Enterovirus 68, which causes severe breathing problems particularly in children with pre-existing asthma or respiratory problems.

That virus has been confirmed in the District of Columbia and all but 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it has sickened more than 277 people, mostly children.

A video report from WTHR television:

Mystery illness gives Colorado kids polio-like symptoms

The Japan Times covers the ongoing outbreak in Japan:

Another type of dengue virus found in Japan

The government said Monday that a man in Shizuoka Prefecture is infected with a dengue virus that has a different genetic sequence than the virus first detected in Japan in August.

The finding indicates that the new-type virus arrived in Japan via someone other than the person carrying the virus that infected several people through mosquitoes, mainly at Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo.

The man in his 20s was identified Sept. 18 as having developed a dengue symptom on Sept. 10. But the site of his infection has not been fixed as he said he visited Tokyo in early September and was bitten by a mosquito Sept. 9 or 10 in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a lethal outbreak on another island:

Chikungunya Kills 3 in Puerto Rico

Three people in Puerto Rico have died after being infected with the Chikungunya virus, Health Department chief epidemiologist Brenda Rivera Garcia said.

Two of the dead were residents of greater San Juan, while the third lived in the northeastern coastal town of Fajardo. Health authorities are investigating two other fatalities to determine if the Chikungunya virus was the cause.

There have been more than 2,000 confirmed cases of Chikungunya in Puerto Rico, though health officials suspect the actual number is higher, pointing out that the symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever.

From the Express Tribune, rising numbers in a Pakistani outbreak:

10 more cases of polio reported as national total rises to 184

Even as vaccination drives kicked off in various parts of the country on Monday, a government official confirmed that ten more polio cases have been reported from different parts of the country.

An official from the health ministry said the polio cases were tested at the polio virology laboratory at National Institute of Health (NIH) and then confirmed.

The official added with these 10 cases, the year’s total has risen to 184. Of these, 127 cases were reported from Fata, 33 from K-P, 17 from Sindh, two from Punjab and five from Balochistan.

And the threat of contagion in Uganda from the Daily Monitor in Kampala:

Government has only 3,000 TB vaccines

Children in Uganda are likely to miss the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine which protects them against TB – at least until the production issues at the global level are sorted.

According to the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (UNEPI) manager, Dr Robert Mayanja, the country has been experiencing a shortage since the beginning of 2014.

But the shortage is expected to escalate in the coming months after receiving only 300,000 out of 1.8 million doses of the vaccine they had ordered for the last quarter of 2014.

TheLocal.dk covers an outbreak concealed:

Officials kept yet another food scandal secret

Up to 130 people, including a three-year-old boy, may have gotten ill from salmonella in ground beef in an outbreak that was kept hidden from the public until now.

Metroxpress obtained access to documents that reveal that ground beef infected with multi resistant salmonella was sold by the Vejen-based food company Skare in June.

Skare delivered the beef to stores on June 13th but did not recall it as required by law when an analysis the following day found the presence of salmonella.

The latest numbers from another disaster in Japan via the Associated Press:

5 more bodies found at Japan volcano; toll now 36

Toxic gases and ash from still-erupting Mount Ontake forced Japanese rescue workers to call off the search for more victims Monday as dozens of relatives awaited news of their family members.

Rescuers found five more bodies near the summit of the volcano, bringing the death toll to 36. They have managed to airlift only 12 bodies off the mountain since the start of the eruption on Saturday because of dangerous conditions.

How the victims died remains unclear, though experts say it was probably from suffocating ash, falling rocks, toxic gases or some combination of them. Some of the bodies had severe contusions.

More from the Asahi Shimbun:

Experts warn of second eruption on Mt. Ontakesan

Volcanologists warned that Mount Ontakesan could erupt again, based on the continuing fumes rising from the crater and the volcanic earthquakes that keep jolting the area.

The Japan Meteorological Agency’s committee of volcanologists said Sept. 28 that the eruption the previous day was a phreatic one that released a column of smoke as high as 7,000 meters from the 3,067-meter peak and sent a pyroclastic flow of relatively low temperature down the mountain slope. At least four climbers were killed on the mountain, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures.

The Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruption said an eruption of a similar scale could take place on Mount Ontakesan, although it would probably not be a major magmatic eruption, which releases magma from the mountain surface. The committee said there are no signs of crustal deformities caused by magma rising through a volcanic vent.

From the Associated Press, climate change symptoms:

Global warming linked to several extreme weather events

  • Better computer models help determine odds of events increasing because of climate change

Scientists looking at 16 cases of wild weather around the world last year see the fingerprints of man-made global warming on more than half of them.

Researchers found that climate change increased the odds of nine extremes: Heat waves in Australia, Europe, China, Japan and Korea, intense rain in parts of the United States and India, and severe droughts in California and New Zealand. The California drought, though, comes with an asterisk.

Organized by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers on Monday published 22 studies on 2013 climate extremes in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

More from the Oakland Tribune:

Drought linked to greenhouse gases, climate change

Stanford study concludes California’s extraordinary drought is linked to the abundance of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels. It is one of the most comprehensive studies to investigate the connection between climate change and California’s ongoing drought.

California’s extraordinary drought is linked to the abundance of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, according to a major new paper Stanford scientists released Monday morning.

The new study used a combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that the high pressure system parked over the Pacific Ocean — diverting storms away from California — is much more likely to form in the presence of concentrations of greenhouse gases.

“Our research finds that extreme atmospheric high pressure in this region — which is strongly linked to unusually low precipitation in California — is much more likely to occur today than prior to the human emission of greenhouse gases that began during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s,” said Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford, in a prepared statement.

The Sacramento Bee covers one consequence:

California harvest much smaller than normal across crops

It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables.

One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage. The great Sacramento Valley rice crop, served in sushi restaurants nationwide and exported to Asia, will be smaller than usual. Fewer grapes will be available to produce California’s world-class wines, and the citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley are producing fewer oranges. There is less hay and corn for the state’s dairy cows, and the pistachio harvest is expected to shrink.

Even the state’s mighty almond business, which has become a powerhouse in recent years, is coming in smaller than expected. That’s particularly troubling to the thousands of farmers who sacrificed other crops in order to keep their almond orchards watered.

Global Times covers other water woes:

Police investigate into polluters in East China

Three chemical factories found illegally dumping wastewater into city sewage systems and the sea have had their cases turned over to police.

After being investigated and fined by the local environment authorities,the three factories in Lianyungang city in East China’s Jiangsu Province will now be probed for possible criminal charges. In one case, a company built its own pipelines to dump toxic wastewater into the sea.

The three cases are very serious and have left a large environmental impact, said a statement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection released in Beijing on Monday.

While the Guardian has some rare good news on the endangered species front:

‘Extinct’ cat-sized chinchilla found alive in shadows of Machu Picchu

  • Living arboreal chinchilla rat thought to have been extinct is tracked down in Peruvian cloud forests, reports Mongabay

Below one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a living, cat-sized mammal that until now was only known from fossils.

The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) was first described from two enigmatic skulls discovered in Incan pottery sculpted 400 years ago.

Dug up by Hiram Bingham in 1912, the skulls were believed to belong to a species that went extinct even before Francisco Pizarro showed up in Peru with his motley army. Then in 2009, park ranger Roberto Quispe found what was believed to be a living Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat near the original archaeological site.

But BBC News immediately dampens any exuberance:

World wildlife populations halved in 40 years – report

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.

The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.

Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

More endangerment from the New York Times:

UN Experts Say World’s Mangrove Forests at Risk

U.N. experts are warning that the world’s mangrove forests are being destroyed at a more rapid rate than other forest ecosystems because of land conversion, development and pollution.

A U.N. Environment Program report presented Monday said mangroves are disappearing three to five times faster than other forests. It said by 2050, southeast Asia could potentially lose 35 percent of the mangroves it had in 2000.

Described in the report as one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, mangrove forests mitigate global warming by trapping vast quantities of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Still more grim news from the Guardian:

World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers

  • Leaked document says World Bank violated its own safeguards in dealings with Sengwer people evicted from their lands

A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

The result has been that more than 1,000 people living near the town of Eldoret have been classed as squatters and forced to flee what they say has been government harassment, intimidation and arrest.

CIP Americas Program covers another grab of the commons:

Yaqui Tribal Authority’s Jailing in Water Conflict Signals Need to Implement Environmental Justice

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico — The Sept. 11 jailing of Yoeme (Yaqui) Traditional Tribal Secretary Mario Luna Romero was a wake-up call for environmental and human rights defenders globally.

Symptomatic of escalating repression against indigenous community members who refuse to conform with free trade’s increasing demand for resources, Luna’s arrest on allegedly false charges sparked widespread grassroots response and highlighted the imperative of forging a united front against further abuses of environmental activists.

The most visible leader of the Yoeme resistance to Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías illegal aqueduct construction project to divert Yaqui River water from its rightfully entitled users in the tribe’s eight villages, Luna immediately declared himself a political prisoner.

After the jump, the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, including another breakdown of water containment systems, enduring radiation hazards, a major increase of laborers on the scene, a major anti-nuclear protest coupled by a major push to reopen other nuclear plants, a fuel recycling plant closure to come, a drive for nuclear power in emerging economies, another fuel, another problem in North Dakota, tar sands pipeline pushback in Nebraska, looming disappointment for Chinese fracking, and predictions of a solar boom. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Can you spot the pattern?


We suspect so.

From Bard College economist Pavlina R. Tcherneva, who posts on Twitter that “The WAY we grow in the US brings more . Distribution of income during expansions (trough-to-peak)”:

BLOG Econ

HB/T to Sociological Images.

EbolaWatch: Crisis, shortages, help, & more


First up, a notable quarantine from the Associated Press:

Liberia Health Chief Is Under Quarantine

Liberia’s chief medical officer is placing herself under quarantine for 21 days after her office assistant died of Ebola.

Bernice Dahn, a deputy health minister who has represented Liberia at regional conferences intended to combat the ongoing epidemic, said Saturday that she did not have any Ebola symptoms but wanted to make sure that she was not infected.

Liberia’s government has asked people to keep themselves isolated for 21 days if they think they have been exposed. The unprecedented scale of the outbreak, however, has made it difficult to trace the contacts of victims and quarantine those who might be at risk.

“Of course we made the rule, so I am home for 21 days,” Ms. Dahn said. “I did it on my own. I told my office staff to stay at home for the 21 days. That’s what we need to do.”

She’s clearly better off than most of her fellow citizens, as the Toronto Globe and Mail reveals:

Newest Liberian Ebola treatment centre overwhelmed with cases

Less than a week after opening, the 150-bed unit is already overwhelmed with 206 patients, and more are arriving each day. Some lie huddled on the dusty ground outside the gates until they are carried in, while a steady stream of ambulances, sirens blaring, bring more patients.

“We’re trying to squeeze in as many as possible,” said Atai Omoruto, the overworked Ugandan doctor in charge of the centre. “We’re still getting so many patients, every day. We’re using the corridors. Whatever space is available, we’re putting camp beds there.”

As she spoke, trucks arrived with piles of donated mattresses from a local microfinance organization and a load of wooden bed frames from a Liberian carpenters’ union. But the new treatment unit, on Bushrod Island near the city’s seaport, is making barely a dent in an ever-growing disaster that has already killed more than 3,000 people in five West African countries. Monrovia has roughly 500 treatment beds, but Liberia as a whole needs thousands and they have been slow to arrive.

It’s not just Liberia, as this clip from the Voice of America makes clear:

Sierra Leone Struggles to Care For Ebola Patients

Program notes:

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It’s a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.

Al Jazeera English covers backlash:

Guinea residents ‘refusing’ Ebola treatment

  • Residents say people frightened to go to clinics because of conspiracy theories that they will be killed by doctors

Residents of the Guinean capital Conakry, hit hard by Ebola, say they are afraid to seek treatment at hospitals for fear of being poisoned by doctors, as the death toll across West Africa passed the 3,000 mark.

Local resident Tairu Diallo said on Friday that people living in his neighbourhood refused to seek medical help and instead stayed at home, trying to alleviate their symptoms with drugs bought at a pharmacy.

Diallo said people think doctors at hospitals inject patients with a deadly poison. “If we have a stomach ache we don’t go to hospital because doctors there will inject you and you will die,” he said.

While Reuters covers the pale rider’s companions:

Ebola’s spread brings host of other diseases in its wake

Last week, fear of Ebola caused locals to kill eight members of an Ebola education team, sick people are avoiding clinics, and the World Health Organization says that 208 of the 373 infected healthcare workers in the region have died from the virus.

As a result, “the health services of West Africa have to a very large degree broken down,” according to Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust international health charity.

Experts predict a quadrupling in deaths caused by diarrhea, pneumonia, and particularly malaria, next year, and the collapse of immunization programs means that children are at a higher risk of diphtheria, polio and tuberculosis. Not to mention the impact to things like childbirth, diabetes and mental health.

So it’s a race against time. According to WHO director of strategy Dr. Christopher Dye, “If control efforts are only partly successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become ‘a permanent feature of life in West Africa.’”

From Star Africa News, a call from the Economic Community Of West African States:

ECOWAS calls for regional response to Ebola

ECOWAS has called for urgent mobilization of the Armed and Security Forces of Member States to strengthen the regional response and interventions against Ebola, according to a statement issued on Saturday.The body’s Coordinating Ministerial Group for the implementation of the Regional Operational Plan on the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) issued the statement on Saturday in Abuja after on Friday meeting with a Ministerial Group Chaired by Ghana’s Health Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyeman.

It recommended that the armed and security forces should provide, among others, medical personnel and logistics as well as mobilize the support of military engineers regiments in setting up Ebola treatment centers in Ebola-hit countries.

It added that the Ministerial Group, which considered the report of the just-ended two-day meeting of the ECOWAS Technical Monitoring Surveillance and Group on Ebola response, equally called for the provision of adequate financial incentives to National Health personnel already on ground in Member States.

Another call, this one from China, via Xinhua:

Chinese FM calls for more global assistance as Ebola epidemic rages

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday called for more global assistance to African countries as the Ebola epidemic is raging in some countries in the region.

Wang made the appeal while speaking at the ongoing annual high- level debate of the UN General Assembly, which opened here Wednesday. “The Ebola epidemic, which is raging in some African countries, has once again sounded the alarm bell for global health security,” he said.

“As a good brother and good partner of Africa sharing weal and woe with it, China will continue to stand firmly with the African people, and support and assist them to the best of its ability,” Wang said, pledging China’s active part in the international assistance efforts.

The Los Angeles Times covers those left behind:

Ebola outbreak often leaves children alone and terrified

As the Ebola virus sweeps through Liberian villages, through its towns and cities, whole families are being cut down by the disease. Parents who die leave behind children no one wants to care for, rejected by neighbors and relatives, who order them to stay away. With an acute shortage of beds, the lucky ones are picked up by ambulance and taken to treatment units. Many of the rest die on the streets.

In Monrovia, the capital, all the Ebola treatment unit beds are full, vacancies opening only as patients die or survivors are discharged. The IMC center, which opened just last week, is one of two in Liberia with available beds. It has admitted 26 patients, seven of whom have died. Two of the dead were children.

The main priority in the treatment units is to keep the workers safe. Next is to isolate infectious patients to prevent spread of the disease. Providing decent care has to come third.

And from the London Telegraph, a short clip about those children:

The abandoned children of the Liberia Ebola outbreak

Program notes:

Children whose families have been killed by outbreak of Ebola in West Africa have found themselves shunned through fear of the deadly disease.

On to Liberia, with new numbers from The Analyst:

Bong County: 21 New Suspected Ebola Deaths Reported

Reports coming from the Central Province of Bong County say there were 36 new suspected Ebola cases in the County last week. This was disclosed by the head of the Bong County Ebola Response task force Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy last Thursday. Out the number, 21 died, she said.

Superintendent Mappy also disclosed that four persons out of the number of confirmed cases that were treated at the Ebola Testing Unit have also died. Appearing on a live radio talk show, Info Box on Radio Gbarnga, Superintendent Mappy said, although the task force and other stakeholders continue to make progress in the fight against the killer disease in the County, more needs to be done to contain the spread of the virus.

The Bong County task force chairperson called on citizens of the County to desist from denial and take preventive measures to avoid further spread of the virus. Superintendent Mappy said Liberia can only succeed in combating the killer disease when citizens accept the existence of the virus and join the fight, adding that plans are underway for the construction of another Ebola testing unit in the County. The Bong superintendent said the facility is expected to be constructed by the US Army at the former UNMIL base in Maimu Salala district

The Analyst again, with evidence of spreading contagion:

Grand Gedeh Records First Ebola Case

A 35-year-old man in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, has tested Ebola positive, making it the first case in the county since the outbreak of the disease in the country in March. The man, whose name is being withheld by the Liberia News Agency, was showing signs and symptoms of the disease when the Grand Gedeh County Health Team (CHT) picked him up from the Zwedru Central Market last Friday.

In a brief interview with the Liberia News Agency Wednesday, the Coordinator of the CHT, Netus Nowena, said the man migrated from Ganta, Nimba County to Grand Gedeh County following the death of nine of his family members from the disease early this month.

According to Nowena, the health team was taking the man to Gbarnga, Bong County for treatment when they observed that he was showing signs and symptoms of the virus, adding that he later tested positive for the disease. According to Nowena, the 36 people who were at the holding center for 21 days of observation have been released without any signs or symptoms of Ebola.

The Liberian Observer covers another threat:

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.

FAO representative, Alexis Bonte is quoted as telling the VOA’s Joe DeCapua that Lofa County residents are “terrified at how fast the disease is spreading.” He says that “neighbors, friends and family members are dying within just a few days of exhibiting shocking symptoms.”

After the jump, calls for mobilization in Sierra Leone,  Guinea, and Gambia, Sierra Leone’s Patient Zero heads home, Ivory Coast ends airline restrictions, an HIV drug cures Ebola in Liberia, World Bank warns Nigeria over Ebola complacency, another American comes home for treatment, Cuba medical teams arrive, more cash is promised by Europe, Asia, and the IMF. . . Continue reading

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.