We begin with an interesting story from the New York Times:
Notable Absence of New Ebola Quarantines at New York Area Airports
A day after a doctor who had returned from Guinea about a week earlier became New York’s first Ebola case, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced that they would begin quarantining travelers who had been in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.
The move, which went beyond federal policy, drew protests from medical aid groups and the Obama administration, who said it would penalize people who were trying to contain Ebola and discourage others from doing so.
But since Kaci Hickox, a nurse, flew into Newark’s airport on Oct. 24 and was kept at a hospital for three days, no one else has been caught up in the quarantine dragnet at the New York and New Jersey airports.
The absence of quarantines is striking, not only because both governors emphatically defended the policy as a necessary precaution, but also because most people returning from Ebola-stricken countries arrive in the United States through Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports. Several aid organizations have American health care workers in West Africa, a handful of whom return every week. But New York and New Jersey officials say no one coming through the two airports since Ms. Hickox has reported direct contact with Ebola patients.
From the Associated Press, another European patient evacuated:
Italian doctor with Ebola returning for treatment
An Italian doctor who has been working in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus and is being transferred to Rome for treatment, the health ministry said Monday. It is Italy’s first confirmed case of Ebola.
The doctor, who was not identified and who works for the non-governmental organization Emergency, is scheduled to arrive overnight in Italy for treatment at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome.
Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said in a statement that the doctor experienced a fever and other symptoms overnight, but he was well enough to eat breakfast and drink beverages. The ministry said all measures are being taken to ensure the safe transport of the patient following biohazard protocols.
From the Associated Press, anticipation of cash registers ringing [or beeping, or booping, or whatever]:
Merck, Iowa firm sign Ebola vaccine licensing deal
Merck & Co., one of the world’s top developers and sellers of vaccines, has entered a partnership with a small drug developer to research and manufacture a potential Ebola vaccine now in initial patient testing.
The exclusive deal involves a vaccine candidate called rVSV-EBOV that’s under early development by BioProtection Systems, the vaccine-development subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corp. of Ames, Iowa.
The vaccine was originally created in labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which in 2010 signed a deal giving BioProtection Systems an exclusive license for the vaccine and the technology involved in producing it.
Under the new deal, Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, gets exclusive rights to the vaccine and any follow-up products.
On to Africa, starting in Mali with Voice of America:
Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain
Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms.
Mali is scrambling to do the same now, almost a month after a 70-year-old Guinean imam sought treatment at a clinic in Bamako. Five people have already died. Mali confirmed a sixth related Ebola case Saturday; a female relative of a nurse who treated the imam.
Every day, twice a day, teams are checking just over 300 people around Bamako. All of these contacts are linked to the Guinean imam who died of Ebola at a private clinic October 27, two days after he had arrived for treatment.
From the U.N. News Center, the U.N. acts:
Top UN health officials take joint mission to Mali in support of Ebola response
The Executive Director of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, have visited Mali in a joint mission to support the country in its efforts to curb the spread of Ebola, as authorities there announced one new case and that two more suspected patients were being tested.
“The next 15 days are critical for ending Ebola in Mali,” where at least 5 people have died from the virus, UNAIDS said in a press release issued today. “The coordination of action and strategic communication are key to success, as are immediate international funding and technical assistance.”
The UN is ramping up support on many fronts to support both the preparedness and response efforts of the Malian Government, including with the announcement on Friday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) would establish an office in the country. That office is scheduled to formally open an office in Mali on Wednesday.
Next, on to Liberia with FrontPageAfrica and a shocking allegation:
Ebola Stigma at Firestone: Orphans Thrown to Wolves – An Inhumane Act By A Heartless Company
A DAILY MAIL report suggesting that the Tyre giant Firestone has ordered the children of workers who died from Ebola to leave their homes on its plantation in Liberia is very troubling.
ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, Firestone which is part of the Bridgestone group which last week announced sales for the first nine months of the year totaling £14.5 billion – has told the families they cannot stay on in worker housing and will not get pensions. “At least 57 people have died on Firestone’s giant plantation near the national capital Monrovia since the start of the outbreak in March,” according to the report.
FIRESTONE, like most expatriate and concession companies abandoned Liberia at the height of the outbreak, leaving behind families and workers who labored the plantation in search of rubber which the company then export for profits.
IT IS SAD THAT a company as large as Firestone would throw children in the streets after surviving such a horrific virus.
Next, from the News in Monrovia, police preparations:
Police Ready To Enforce Anti-Ebola Regulations
The Liberia National Police is said to be gearing up for robust enforcement of the government’s anti Ebola and other safety regulations during the pending special senatorial election.
Police Director Chris Massaquoi said the LNP has been ordered to ensure the enforcement of the Ministry of Health and National Elections Commission (NEC) regulations during the election.
Speaking Friday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing in Monrovia, Director Massaquoi said pursuant to the power granted the Ministry of Health under the Public Health Law, the police will also ensure that all beaches in Liberia remain closed during holidays.
He called on parents, religious leaders and others to warn their children and relatives against going to beaches during holidays.
The LNP Director also stated that except for the political campaign rallies, all public rallies, demonstrations and gathering in public areas will be strictly prohibited until Liberia is declared Ebola free.
However, Director Massaquoi said all political campaign rallies are expected to also be held in keeping with the guidelines and regulations of NEC and the Ministry of Health.
Reuters covers an upbeat assessment:
“Dramatic improvement” in Ebola outlook in Liberia -U.S. general
A U.S. general in the force helping Liberia fight the Ebola epidemic reported on Monday a dramatic improvement in the situation there and confirmed the cancellation of two planned treatment facilities.
Brigadier General Frank Tate, deputy commanding general of U.S. Operation United Assistance, said the drop in the number of cases in the country was all the more encouraging given recent improvements in reporting capacity.
He said new daily cases have fallen to around 20 from close to 80 when the operation was announced in September. Ebola is still spreading in other parts of West Africa.
While FrontPageAfrica covers a contrarian view:
‘Wishful Thinking’: Politics & Ebola Dampens Ebola End by X-Mas
U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac’s description of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s goal of eradicating Ebola by Christmas as “Wishful Thinking”, heralds a key challenge many health experts fear could keep the virus around for quite some time, especially for those contemplating voting in a time of Ebola.
That goal is being compounded by an upcoming senatorial election, many say would be a crucial test of the government’s message against Ebola and Liberia’s reaching a turning point in the outbreak: Avoiding touching, kissing and a large gathering of people can be a hard sell for a nation historically noted for daring conventions.
At the headquarters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change last Thursday, for example, it was hard not to notice partisans and supporters of senatorial candidates hugging and holding hands as sweat poured amid the celebration.
And StarAfrica covers worrisome numbers:
Liberia: Resurgence of Ebola in Bong County
Reports from central Bong County say the county health team has reported 22 new cases of Ebola over a period of one week, despite huge reduction in the number of cases across the country.Media reports Monday quote the Bong County Health Team Administrator Fatorma Jusu as saying 10 of the 22 cases are confirmed, one probable and eleven suspected.
Jusu attributed the emergence of new Ebola cases in the county to the outbreak in Taylor-ta that has now crossed over to Bomota and Gbatala, all of which are adjacent to Taylor-Ta in Yelequelleh District, Bong County.
Addressing the regular Ebola response Taskforce briefing Monday on Phebe Compound on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Gbarnga, Jusu attributed the new outbreak to the breach of quarantine rules by residents of Taylor-ta, and stressed the need for urgent redress of the situation.
After the jump, a new aid shipment arrives, new treatment centers — one American-built, the other Chinese — open, an economic lament, fears of another flare-up, reintegrating the healed in healing roles, journalists’ ethics challenged, a chief calls on fellows chiefs to join the Ebola fight, American medical missionaries lauded, then on to Sierra Leone where a worsening epidemic thwarts a U.N. goal, a mayor makes a plea, plus a bitter harvest. . . Continue reading