With the emphasis on coverage from African media.
We begin with that rare bit of news from the lighter side, via the London Telegraph:
Ebola not spread by zombies, says minister
- International Development Minister Desmond Swayne tells the Commons a constituent believed zombies were responsible for the escalation of ebola
International Development Minister Desmond Swayne has dismissed concerns that Ebola is spread by zombies.
The Tory front-bencher told the Commons he had to enlighten a constituent who believed zombies were responsible for the escalation of the killer virus.
But Mr Swayne noted the “irony” of Ebola is that people are capable of causing infection when they are dead.
More new on the bright side from Voice of America:
Officials: Number of New Ebola Cases in W. Africa Declining
The good news from West Africa began trickling in last week.
The Ebola coordinator at the Guinean Health Ministry said Tuesday in Paris that the numbers of new cases are declining in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Guinean Health Ministry official Aboubakar Sidiki Diakite said, “The figures are declining because the number of confirmed cases that we had in health care centers, the number also of suspected cases that we had in health care centers, these figures are starting to decline – not in a very significant way, but we realize that these figures are decreasing.”
In Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, a United Nations official in charge of emergency Ebola response confirmed there has been a significant improvement in the fight against the deadly disease.
According to Wednesday’s World Health Organization Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report [PDF], 13,015 people have contracted Ebola, of whom 4808 have died.
Two contrasting graphics [click on them to enlarge] illustrate the report’s good news and bad. First, the hopeful Bell Curves in Liberia and its capital, Monrovia:
While the ongoing misery continues to accelerate in Sierra Leone and its capital, Freetown:
From BBC News, a deplorable lack:
Ebola outbreak: UN ‘lacks resources’ to fight deadly virus
The head of the UN mission charged with fighting Ebola in West Africa has told the BBC he does not yet have the resources necessary to defeat it.
Tony Banbury said more help was urgently needed, despite significant contributions from the UK, China, Cuba and the US.
But he was hopeful of achieving the target of 70% bed space for new cases and 70% safe burials by December.
The confirmed death toll is now 4,818, says the World Health Organization. The numbers are down since the WHO previously reported figures last Friday, as it says it has changed the way the figures are collated.
But it said in the countries worst affected by the outbreak – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – transmission remained “persistent and widespread, particularly in the capital cities”.
Putting politicians on the spot with before the congressional red shift, via the New York Times:
Obama to Ask Congress for $6 Billion to Fight Ebola
President Obama is asking Congress for just over $6 billion in emergency funding to combat Ebola in West Africa and protect Americans from the virus in the United States, an administration official said Wednesday.
The request comes just after the midterm congressional elections on Tuesday in which Republicans took control of the Senate, dealing devastating losses to Democrats across the country and a rebuke to Mr. Obama that will complicate his efforts to advance his agenda.
The White House described the proposal as a chance for collaboration between the president and Capitol Hill.
And a question from National Journal:
Is Ebola Funding One Thing the White House and Congress Can Agree On?
- With a new $6 billion request to Congress, the administration sure hopes so
Tensions are high between the White House and Congress following Tuesday’s elections, but the Obama administration is confident it’s found one area where Democrats and Republicans can still work together: fighting Ebola.
In a huge scale-up in funding requests, the administration is asking Congress for $6.18 billion in emergency funding for the federal government’s Ebola response efforts. And administration officials remain optimistic that a deal will be worked out—fast.
“It’s clear to us thus far that this is being taken seriously as an emergency,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on Thursday. “We’ve been pleased so far with the engagement seen on both sides of the aisle.”
AJ+, Al Jazeera America’s new YouTube channel, covers another sad reality:
Why Pharmaceutical Companies Are Ignoring Tropical Diseases Like Ebola
Only 1% of medicines developed in the last 40 years were made to fight tropical diseases. Ethan Guillen, from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, explains why it’s no mistake that these diseases have been neglected.
The run for the cure with the Associated Press:
US officials unveil plan to test Ebola drugs
The quest for an Ebola treatment is picking up speed. Federal officials have unveiled a plan to test multiple drugs at once, in an umbrella study with a single comparison group to give fast answers on what works.
“This is novel for us” and is an approach pioneered by cancer researchers, said Dr. Luciana Borio, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Ebola response. “We need to learn what helps and what hurts” and speed treatments to patients, she said.
She outlined the plan Wednesday at an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in New Orleans. Thousands of scientists have crowded into day and late-night sessions on Ebola, which has killed 5,000 West Africans this year.
One promising entrant from NBC News:
Nose Spray Ebola Vaccine Protects Monkeys
A needle-free Ebola vaccine protects monkeys 100 percent of the time from the virus, even a year after they’ve been vaccinated, researchers reported Monday.
The vaccine uses a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry a tiny piece of Ebola DNA. Sprayed up the nose, it saved all nine monkeys tested for infection.
But now the research is dead in the water without funding, Maria Croyle of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy said.
“Now we are at the crossroads, trying to figure out where to get the funding and resources to continue,” Croyle told NBC News.
A Spanish healer healed, via El País:
“I don’t know what went wrong, or if anything went wrong”
- Nursing assistant who contracted Ebola speaks after doctors discharge her
- Medical team admits they can’t pinpoint what cured Teresa Romero
The Spanish nursing assistant who became the first person outside of West Africa to contract Ebola appeared before the press on Wednesday morning after being discharged from hospital. After more than a month of treatment, Teresa Romero has been given the definitive all-clear by her medical team.
An emotional but at all times in control Romero appeared before a press scrum at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, where she spent nearly the whole of October in isolation. Also present at the press conference was her husband Javier Limón.
“I’m here to give you my thanks, but I’m still very weak,” Romero said, before reading a statement in which she thanked her doctors, her family and the public for their messages and letters of support.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” she said in reference to her infection. “I don’t even know if something did go wrong. All I know is that I’m not bitter and I’m not blaming anyone.”
From CBC News’s The National, deplorable and deplored:
World Health Organization condemns Canada’s freeze on visas from Ebola affected countries
WHO demanded Canada justify the move that few other nations have made.
Profit potential from Want China Times:
Ebola outbreak sends demand for protective gear rocketing
As China sends more aid to Ebola-plagued West Africa, medical equipment suppliers are rushing to meet the soaring global demand for protective products.
Protective gear such as coveralls, gloves and goggles are essential supplies in the battle against the deadly virus, with Chinese suppliers seeing a wave of orders from concerned countries.
Gao Yan, a sales manager of Crown Name Disposable Hygiene Products, based in Hubei province, said since the outbreak of the epidemic, the firm has received an influx of inquiries on orders. “People are calling from everywhere, asking whether we have anything in stock,” Gao told Xinhua at the Canton Fair, the country’s largest trade event.
Aid money, via the Associated Press:
Ebola countries to get $450 million in financing
A new private sector initiative announced Wednesday will provide at least $450 million in commercial financing to the three West African countries hardest hit by Ebola to promote trade, investment and employment.
The International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank Group, announced that the package will include $250 million in rapid response projects and at least $200 million in investment projects to support the economic recovery of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea after the Ebola outbreak is controlled.
The announcement coincides with the U.N. Development Program’s release of a study on the socio-economic impact of the outbreak, which found that the governments of the three countries need $328 million to be able to function at pre-crisis levels. The study said the shortfalls are caused by increased spending to tackle Ebola and the slowdown of economic activity in fields such as tourism, mining and trade.
More aid, via Reuters:
EU scheme commits $350 mln for research on Ebola vaccines, tests
The Europe Union and drugmakers pledged on Thursday to invest 280 million euros ($350 million) in Ebola research, with the lion’s share going to the testing and manufacture of potential vaccines.
The funding will go to projects backed by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private scheme jointly paid for by the European Commission and the pharmaceuticals industry.
Reuters reported on Oct. 22 that an IMI investment of around 200 million euros was pending. Since then, further discussions have been held about the resources needed for various projects and the amount has been increased.
The final document setting out the plans commits the European Commission to giving as much as 140 million euros, with companies providing an equivalent amount in staff time, goods and services.
Aid by the Like from the Star in Nairobi, Kenya:
Facebook launches Ebola charity donation button
Facebook Inc said users would now have option to donate directly to various Ebola relief charities through a button at the top of their News Feeds.
Facebook users can donate to three charities – International Medical Corps, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Save the Children – starting today, the company said on its website on Thursday. (http://bit.ly/1pqeRUq)
The social media company is also donating 100 terminals to provide internet and voice-calling access for aid workers to Ebola-hit areas such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Help from above via SciDev.Net:
Space agency alliance joins the struggle against Ebola
An international collaboration of space agencies that provides free satellite imagery and data to assist disaster responses is now supporting efforts to control the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
When the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated on 9 October it was the first time it had been triggered in response to a disease outbreak.
The charter has previously only been activated to help map areas in response to natural disasters such as typhoons.
In the Ebola context, satellite data could assist attempts to find out where the virus originated and help produce maps useful for coordinating medical responses.
Japanese precautions from the Asahi Shimbun:
Ministries move to quell fears over Ebola with new policy
To avoid creating public hysteria over the spread of the Ebola virus, information on arriving passengers suspected to be carriers of the deadly disease will be promptly disclosed.
The health and land ministries decided on the policy change following a case late last month in which a passenger arrived in Tokyo showing signs of fever, but later tested negative.
The ministries said Nov. 4 they will immediately release information on potential victims of the virus, including age bracket, gender and specific symptoms, as well as the air carrier and flight number of the aircraft the individual used.
Previously, the government would only disclose such information after a passenger was confirmed to be infected.
And from News Corp Australia, barely horrified:
Ebola scare on nudist beach as refugees turn up on Canary Islands with fever
HOLIDAYING nudists on a Spanish beach fled when a boatload of sick refugees from Africa decided to make a surprise visit.
Local media reports the migrants were kept huddled together while Red Cross workers cordoned off the area and began taking temperatures while wearing protective gear.
A number of the 17 men and two women showed signs of fever including one who had a temperature of 40 degrees. Some said they were from Guinea and Sierra Leone – both Ebola hotspots.
After a few hours, the authorities used a dump truck to collect the group from Maspalomas beach and take them away to a holding centre, which angered some locals. None of the refugees tested positive for the deadly virus, but four were taken to hospital with other health issues.
Replacement at the top from the New York Times:
Amid Ebola Disaster, WHO Picks New Africa Chief
With nearly 5,000 dead of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization elected a new director Wednesday of its Africa office, which has been accused of bungling the response to the outbreak in its early stages.
The new chief, Matshidiso Moeti, is a doctor from Botswana and a WHO veteran who stepped down as deputy director for Africa in March, the same month the crisis was announced.
The results of the five-candidate election were made public at a meeting of the U.N. agency in Benin and came amid the worst outbreak of the dreaded disease ever seen.
And a plea from the Vanguard in Lagos, Nigeria:
W.Africa urges tourists to keep visiting despite Ebola
West African tourist chiefs urged travellers on Wednesday not to boycott their region because of the Ebola crisis, insisting that the epidemic was only affecting three countries in a vast continent.
“Africa is not a country, Africa is a continent,” said Ola Wright, the chief executive of West Africa Tourism, warning that fear over Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was having a damaging impact on neighbouring countries.
The deadly virus has brought an abrupt and indefinite halt to international tourism in those three affected countries, where almost 5,000 people have died in the outbreak.
But tourism has been affected across the region and even in east and southern Africa, which are thousands of miles (kilometres) away and have not reported Ebola cases.
After the jump, West Africa mobilizes regional defenses and names a coordinator, an educational campaign in Mali, then on to Sierra Leone where things are getting worse, a chief cries for help, new treatment centers open, Australia finally vows to send medical help to staff a new British-built treatment center [but there’s less to the vow than meets the eye or ear], presidential pleas for help and food, disturbing allegations, and a crackdown on the press amidst hints of a coming crackdown, thence onward to Liberia with the press also under siege, America opens a new treatment center for sick medical workers only, China prepares to build a treatment center, life begins to return to normal as clubbing rebounds — but beach goers are threatened with “severe floggings,” U.S. medics to treat Ebola patients directly, food aid stolen, major public awareness campaigns underway, a deplorable lack of infrastructure, and a plea for investors to return, on to Guinea and advice ignored, thence to Nigeria and reassurance aplenty. . .