Category Archives: Nature

EnviroWatch: Illness, climate, fires, nukes


We open with a potential outbreak from the Guardian:

Texas nurse assistant may have exposed tuberculosis to 750 infants

  • El Paso hospital assistant showed symptoms of TB long before going on leave, meaning hundreds of babies must be tested

An official at a Texas hospital where a nurse assistant potentially exposed more than 750 infants to tuberculosis said Tuesday that her symptoms were discovered in July but that more than a month passed before she was tested for the infectious lung disease.

The administration of the Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso “should have done more” when the employee’s symptoms were revealed during her annual screening, Sierra Providence Health Network CEO Eric Evans said at a news conference. Sierra Providence is the parent company of a network of hospitals that includes Providence Memorial.

The hospital submitted a corrective action plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday and expects its approval, Evans said.

TheLocal.dk covers flesh-eating bacteria on aisle four:

Every fifth pack of pork carries MRSA

An analysis of pork products in Denmark’s supermarkets found that every fifth pack is contaminated with MRSA. Just five years ago, a similar analysis found the bacteria in just five percent of products.

TV Syd asked the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and the Techinical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute to analyze 100 packages of pork chops, roast pork, tenderloins and other pork products. The MRSA 398 bacteria was found in 21 of the 100 packages.

All of the pork was produced in Denmark and the samples also included organic pork products.

From the Daily Climate, linking disease spread to climate:

Lyme disease surges north, and Canada moves out of denial

Canada should have seen this coming. In the United States, reported cases of Lyme disease have increased from fewer than 10,000 reported cases in 1991 to more than 27,000 cases by 2013. Canada was well-positioned to be affected by the spread of the disease. As early as 2005, modeling published by researcher Nicholas Ogden, then at the University of Montreal, indicated that the geographic range of the Lyme-carrying tick could expand northward significantly due to climate change in this century.

Scientists long have anticipated that global warming would harm human health, and the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlights the risk for poor populations that don’t have access to quality health care or other public services. For example, the risk of heat stroke is greatest in areas without access to power for air conditioning, and water-borne illnesses like cholera and intestinal viruses flourish in areas without safe drinking water.

But one of the clearest signs of the changing health risks in a warming world has emerged in two of the world’s most advanced economies, the United States and Canada, as Lyme disease spreads in North America.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year added Lyme disease to its list of climate change indicators, a report meant to aid in public understanding of the effects of warming that scientists have been able to document.

From the Guardian, a California Burning update:

California King fire destroys 12 homes as states issue smoke warning

  • Crews of more than 7,000 firefighters extend their lines around huge fire in northern California as smoke shrouds Nevada

More than 7,000 firefighters in better than expected conditions managed to extend their lines around a huge and unwieldy wildfire, which threatens thousands of homes for well over a week and fouled the air in two states.

The King fire east of Sacramento was 35% contained Tuesday after burning about 140 square miles and destroying a dozen homes, said the California department of forestry and fire protection.

Expected high winds up to 35mph that could stoke the flames and send embers flying ahead of the blaze failed to materialize Tuesday but could still come Wednesday.

From the Los Angeles Times, a preview of coming attractions:

Northern California fires may offer a grim preview for Southland

Northern California is bearing the brunt of wildfires that have destroyed scores of homes and consumed huge swaths of land. The state has seen 1,000 more wildfires so far this year compared to the average, many of them in northern forest areas left bone-dry by the drought.

But Southern California is about to enter its traditional fire season, and officials worry that the destruction to the north offers a grim preview of what’s ahead.

“Conditions are ripe, and it only takes one day of hot, dry weather with Santa Ana winds for a large wildfire to cause destruction,” said Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service released Wednesday only added to the concern. Northern California typically gets 30% to 40% of its rain in the next three months, but meteorologists said they see largely dry conditions ahead. The drought outlook is similar for the south.

Next up, from NASA Goddard, a video with a dramatic animation of the extent of the loss of arctic sea ice in the past five decades:

NASA | Arctic Sea Ice Reaches 2014 Minimum Extent

Program notes:

Sea ice acts as an air conditioner for the planet, reflecting energy from the sun. On September 17, the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for 2014. At 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers), it’s the sixth lowest extent of the satellite record. With warmer temperatures and thinner, less resilient ice, the Arctic sea ice is on a downward trend.

BBC News covers tragic rejection:

Brazil refuses to join pledge to end deforestation

Brazil has refused to sign up to a pact setting a deadline for ending deforestation entirely by 2030.

The US, Canada and European Union nations were among 30 states that agreed to halve forest loss by 2020 and work towards a 2030 goal.

But Brazil, which owns the largest continuous rainforest on the planet, refused to sign because it could contravene national law.

UN officials said they hoped the pact would be adopted in 2015.

From ABC Australia via Journeyman Pictures — and do note the helmet cams worn by the marine cops:

Last Chance For Pacific Tuna Stocks?

Program notes:

Net Loss: How over-fishing has driven Pacific Bluefin Tuna stocks to the brink of extinction

Pacific Bluefin tuna have been fished to within an inch of existence. Stocks are at an all time low, but demand has never been higher and the trawlers pursuing them have never been more powerful or relentless.

East of the Philippines, well north of Indonesia and with nothing but hundreds of kilometres of wide blue ocean for a neighbour, Palau is determined to protect its own subsistence fishing interests and its pristine reefs; waters and wildlife that make it an international eco-tourist hotspot. Now the president is drawing up plans to make the 200 nautical miles of ocean surrounding it – about 630 thousand square kilometers – a no-go zone for international fishing fleets. According to Tommy Remengasau Jnr. President, Palau, “Palau is so fragile and so beautiful that you just have to take the responsible action and minimise the risk that would destroy all of this for our children and future children”. Remengesau admits that this will be a tough fight against powerful forces, both locally and internationally. But Palau has established an international reputation for taking a brave lead on conservation.

The Yomiuri Shimbun covers hands across the border:

U.S., Canada tribes sign bison treaty

Native tribes from the United States and Canada signed a treaty Tuesday establishing an inter-tribal alliance to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains where millions of the animals once roamed.

Leaders of 11 tribes from Montana and Alberta signed the pact during a daylong ceremony on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation, organizers said.

It marks the first treaty among the tribes and First Nations since a series of agreements governing hunting rights in the 1800s. That was when their ancestors still roamed the border region hunting bison, also called buffalo.

From the Guardian, Big Oil gets a rejection slip:

Judge orders BP to stick by Deepwater Horizon payouts agreement

  • BP had argued in court that flawed formula gives money to businesses for questionable claims relating to 2010 spill

A federal judge has ruled that BP must stick by an agreement with companies that received payouts after claiming the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill hurt their business, ruling against the oil company’s argument hundreds of millions of dollars should be returned.

BP argued on Wednesday that a flawed funding formula in the settlement is giving money to businesses for questionable claims, and they should be forced to return it.

But US district judge Carl Barbier says a deal is a deal. Barbier had ordered the formula changed several weeks ago.

Pueblo Lands covers the climate-warmer hired to handle investments for Global Corporate University:

UC’s Chief Investment Officer Envisions Coal-Fired Power, Cement Factories as “Green” Investment Opportunities

The news this week that the University of California’s chief investment officer (CIO) will not be recommending divestment from fossil fuel companies to the university’s governing board of regents isn’t a surprise.

A coalition of UC students, faculty, staff and alumni have pressed the UC regents to divest from fossil fuel stocks and bonds. On Tuesday, the UC’s CIO released a recommendation that regents not pursue divestment, and instead develop “a framework for the management of environmental, social , and governance considerations.”

UC’s CIO, Jagdeep Singh Bachher was recently hired by the regents to run the university’s finances, more than $90 billion in funds. Bachher previously helped run the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the sovereign wealth fund of Alberta, Canada. While helping pick investments for AIMCo, Bachher steered the province’s money into coal, oil, and gas companies and projects in North America, China and beyond. He also prioritized renewable energy and clean tech investments. But nothing in his record indicates that he would support divestment from fossil fuel companies. Instead it appears that Bachher sees clean tech as simply one part of a diversified investment portfolio which includes fossil fuels.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with this from NHK WORLD:

System to remove cesium at plant stops

Apparent human error has resulted in stoppage of a system for removing cesium from radioactively contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The firm says the stoppage is thought to have resulted from mistaken closing of a pump valve. It adds that a pump for sending tainted water to the system stopped with an alarm around 8:30 AM on Wednesday. The operator later shut down the system.

Officials of the firm say the error lowered power to siphon off contaminated water, stopping the pump.

The system can treat 30 tons of tainted water per hour.

The Japan Times covers the big picture:

Fukushima cleanup going painfully slow

  • Opposition to waste storage complicates project

Three and a half years after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air and water, decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to draw to an end.

The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the end of last March, but the process continues to lag far behind, prompting the government to push back the goal by three years to 2017.

Due to the slow progress, huge bags filled with contaminated soil can still be seen piled up at hundreds of temporary storage sites across the prefecture, and many residents are in limbo, unable to make up their minds about whether to return home in the near future or to relocate for good.

From NHK WORLD, filling in:

Regulator: Cementing radioactive water unavoidable

The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority says tunnels containing radioactive water may have to be blocked off by cement at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Acting chief Toyoshi Fuketa expressed his opinion at a news conference on Wednesday.

Highly radioactive water flowing into tunnels at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is believed to be mixing with groundwater and leaking into the ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Company initially planned to freeze some of the contaminated water to stop the flow and allow its removal.

Fuketa said work to freeze the water has been unsuccessful and there may be no choice but to fill the tunnels with concrete.

The Asahi Shimbun takes it to the streets:

16,000 activists turn out in Tokyo in outcry against nuclear power plants

Even though reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant have cleared final safety checks, more than 10,000 anti-nuclear activists at a park in Tokyo’s Koto Ward on Sept. 23 pledged to continue their opposition.

According to Citizens’ Committee for the 10 Million People’s Petition to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants, which organized the protest, about 16,000 activists rallied at Kameido Chuo Park on the autumn equinox national holiday.

“I want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pledge that the central government will abandon nuclear power plants in the nation,” said writer Hisae Sawachi, who is a member of the group along with Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe.

And for our final item, opposition across the English Channel from TheLocal.at:

Austria challenges UK’s nuclear ambitions

Austria will launch a legal challenge if the European Commission approves Britain’s ambitious plan to build its first new nuclear plant in a generation, Vienna’s environment minister said Wednesday.

To the alarm of environmentalists, a spokesman for EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Monday that Brussels will “recommend a positive decision” on the Hinkley Point project, reported Agence France-Presse.

“This scandal has to be fought by all legal means possible,” Andra Rupprechter told the Kurier daily, adding that he would apply to the European Court of Justice to have the decision annulled.

Call it a solargasm: Spectcular view as Sun erupts


A truly remarkable video from NASA Goddard of a CME, a Coronal Mass Ejection, captured through multiple satellite lenses as the light our lives blast more than a trillion tons of itself at a million miles an hour:

NASA | Many Views of a Massive CME

Program notes:

On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space. It soon passed one of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, spacecraft, which clocked the CME as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun. This was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO.

Two other observatories – NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and the joint European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory — witnessed the eruption as well. The July 2012 CME didn’t move toward Earth, but watching an unusually strong CME like this gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events originate and travel through space.

STEREO’s unique viewpoint from the sides of the sun combined with the other two observatories watching from closer to Earth helped scientists create models of the entire July 2012 event. They learned that an earlier, smaller CME helped clear the path for the larger event, thus contributing to its unusual speed.
Such data helps advance our understanding of what causes CMEs and improves modeling of similar CMEs that could be Earth-directed.

EnviroWatch: Illness, fires, climate, & nukes


We begin with another outbreak, this one in China. From South China Morning Post:

Dengue epidemic rises rapidly in Guangdong

  • Number of cases in Guangzhou upby a quarter in three days, including two rare deaths, due to continued wet weather and human factors

A deadly outbreak of dengue fever in Guangdong has spiked alarmingly in the last week, with 1,200 cases alone reported in Guangzhou between Saturday and Monday.

In all, the province has reported 6,089 cases this year – or 10 times more than same time last year.

The provincial capital is the hardest-hit area, with 5,190 cases, or 85 per cent of the total, and two deaths as of Monday, according to the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

From Pakistan, the Express Tribune covers another outbreak:

Single most important stumbling block: 5 new polio cases raise national tally to 171

  • Five new polio cases were confirmed in the country on Tuesday, raising the national count for 2014 to 171.

Of the five reported cases, two are from FATA, one from Balochistan, one from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and one from Karachi.

With the confirmation of today’s cases, number of polio cases in FATA has reached 121 while 29 cases have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. Punjab seems to be least affected with polio virus with 2 confirmed cases of polio this year.

The latest polio case from Karachi is of 24-month old Hazrat Bilal son of Khayal Mohammad. He is a resident of Union Council 2, Firdous Colony in Liaquatabad, the heart of the city. According to the health department, the boy was never administered polio vaccine as his family is among those who refused polio drops.

A California burning update via the Guardian:

California firefighters rush to contain King wildfire before dry weather arrives

  • Fears dry heat and wind could undo progress of containing wildfire that threatens thousands of homes in north of state

Crews nearly doubled containment of a northern California wildfire threatening thousands of homes ahead of a weather system expected to bring dry heat and erratic winds that could undo their progress.

Firefighters on Tuesday were focusing on expanding containment lines ahead of a red flag warning in the afternoon, when gusts of up to 35mph were expected, fire officials said. That coupled with low humidity could stoke the flames and send embers flying ahead of the blaze.

“This could set up some potential fire growth similar to what we experienced when it grew exponentially last week,” said state fire spokesman Captain Tom Piranio. “We are working very aggressively to maintain the contingency lines.”

And the Los Angeles Times covers another effect from the Golden State’s long dry spell:

Forest Service thinks California’s drought caused a massive mudslide

Government scientists say exceptionally hot, dry conditions and a lack of insulating snowpack primed Mt. Shasta for the massive mudslide that rumbled down over the weekend after a pulse of water burst out from under an alpine glacier.

That a severe drought could cause flooding is the latest expression of a three-year dry spell that is afflicting California with increased wildfires, crop losses, water shortages and spikes in air pollution.

The U.S. Forest Service is still investigating exactly what caused the thick slurry of mud, boulders and debris to pour through Shasta-Trinity National Forest Saturday afternoon, damaging roads below. Their working theory is that water from melting ice pooled up underneath a glacier along the mountain’s southeastern side, then flushed out all at once into Mud Creek about 2:30 p.m.

From the Guardian, help for forests:

UN climate summit pledges to halt the loss of natural forests by 2030

  • New York declaration on forests could cut carbon emissions equivalent of taking all the world’s cars off the road

Governments, multinational companies and campaigners are pledging to halt the loss of the world’s natural forests by 2030.

A declaration announced as part of a UN summit on climate change being held in New York also pledges to halve the rate of deforestation by the end of this decade and to restore hundreds of millions of acres of degraded land.

Backers of the New York declaration on forests claim their efforts could save between 4.5bn and 8.8bn tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking all the world’s cars off the road.

Süddeutsche Zeitung tallies costs:

Delay On Climate Change Is Not Only Deadly, But Expensive

The numbers are new, but not the awareness: Worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases continue to grow. Data published Sunday by the Global Carbon Project shows that this year they will increase by 2.5%. That corresponds exactly to the trend of the last 10 years. And most people, including decision makers in politics and the economy, wave aside the information as something we all know. They consider the UN climate summit this week empty talk. And yet the incredible thing is that emissions from the burning of coal and oil continue to increase, molecule by molecule, percentage point by percentage point.

Is climate change too slow? Too slow to scare people into doing something about it in time? It’s usually said that a development is too quick for there to be time to do something about it. With regard to climate change, this appears to be juxtaposed in some fatal way. The impact of man-made warming will only really start to hurt in the second half of this century, so it sounds as if we still have plenty of time. But that’s not so.

Today’s weather extremes, melting glaciers and the inexorable rise in sea level, are unmistakable warning signs. The second half of this century isn’t actually that far away. What’s happening now will impact our kids, the very children that we supposedly want the best for. The right time to act is earlier, much earlier.

RFI covers an gesture from the most unpopular government in recent French history:

France to give one billion dollars to UN’s green fund

France will contribute one billion dollars to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, President François Hollande announced at the opening of a heads-of-state summit in New York on Tuesday

France will give the fund, which is being set up to help developing nations progress economically without contributing to global warming, one billion dollars, Hollande announced as the summit opened.

Few countries had committed themselves to donate to the fund before the meeting, leading to criticism that it might be forced to rely on cash from private sources.

From Public Radio International, environmental tragedy on the Gulf of Mexico:

Louisiana’s coastline is disappearing at the rate of a football field an hour

Hurricane Katrina was bad, but the future could be considerably worse, a new report says. “One of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the nation’s history is rushing toward a catastrophic conclusion, so far unabated and largely unnoticed.”

According to the report, called Losing Ground, changes in the Mississippi delta that were designed to increase flood protection and enhance oil and gas production have led to an unprecedented loss of land.

Bob Marshall, a reporter with the New Orleans news site The Lens, has covered coastal land loss in Louisiana for decades. He collaborated with ProPublica to publish the new report. ProPublica used official US Geological Survey topographical maps, aerial photographs and satellite photographs going back to before the 1930s and combined them to create a powerful visual representation of just how much land has been lost in the past 80 years.

Public Radio International again, with another loss of land halfway around the world:

In Pacific island nations, there’s nowhere left to run from climate change

From around the country and across the globe, an estimated 400,000 marchers came to New York City for the People’s Climate March on Sunday.

The march coincided with the start of the United Nations Climate Summit. The meeting, which began Tuesday in New York, brings 120 world leaders together in an effort to improve upon the last summit, which was held five years ago in Copenhagen and called “disappointing in substance and hectic in progress.”

In attendance is the leadership of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. The country is made up of low-lying, ring-shaped islands, the highest of which is only two meters above sea level. To say that the Marshall Islands are vulnerable to the effects of global climate change is an understatement.

“Anything that the sea does is felt immediately by our people,” says Tony De Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands. “As the tide comes in a lot higher than it used to, it begins to affect life as we know it — not only as to where you can live or have a family, but also where you can grow your food, where you draw your water and where you bury your dead.”

An epic partnership against the tar sands pipeline with MintPress News:

Nebraska’s Cowboys And Indians Unite Against Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. government must consult with tribes on any issue that might affect them, but tribes say the government has failed to do so in regards to the path of the Keystone XL pipeline — a project that carries massive environmental and social concerns.

Thousands of people are expected to rally at the Harvest the Hope concert on a farm near Neligh, Nebraska, on Sept. 27. Headlined by Neil Young and Willie Nelson, proceeds from the sold out show will benefit the Indigenous Environmental Network, Bold Nebraska and the Cowboy & Indian Alliance — groups that have united in opposition to the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It’s about people expressing our needs to the government,” said Aldo Seoane, Oglala Lakota and member of the Cowboys & Indian Alliance. “We’ve all pulled together against this.”

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL, a 1,179-mile, 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline, is slated to begin in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, enter the United States at Montana, then snake its way through South Dakota and Nebraska on its way to the Gulf Coast.

After the jump, an endangered species in peril from an American base in Asia, an elephantine tragedy in Mozambique, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with the latest — and very small — victims, ongoing leaks of radioactive water, taking out the trash, mixed feelings about evacuees, soothing words from Shinzo Abe, plans for restarting stalled reactors near and protests begin, and a nuclear waste mystery in New Mexico. . .   Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Stark warnings, ongoing struggle


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak shocked unprepared developed countries, says CDC health agency

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

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

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

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

From the New York Times, the hidden deaths:

Fresh Graves Point to Undercount of Ebola Toll

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

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

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

From BBC News, another number:

Ebola death rates 70% – WHO study

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

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

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

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

Bloomberg covers needs:

Massive Aid Needed for Ebola Outbreak as Outlook Worsens

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

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

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

From Reuters, partially good news:

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

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

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

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

From the Liberian Observer, the newest player:

New UN Mission on Ebola Established

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

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

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

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

Drugs on the way, via the Guardian:

Ebola epidemic: experimental drugs to be rushed to Africa

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

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

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

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

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

Another treatment in the offing from News Corp Australia:

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

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

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

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

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

Bloomberg covers another casualty:

World Bank Says Ebola’s Spread May Have Catastrophic Cost

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

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

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

From BBC News, another emergency measure:

Liberia signs ‘transformational’ deal to stem deforestation

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

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

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

Star Africa News covers help arrived:

More shipments for US response to Ebola epidemic arrive in Liberia

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

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

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

Another source of assistance with Want China Times:

Sierra Leone and China sign protocols to fight Ebola

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

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

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

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

Chart of the day II: Globe’s biggest gas-passers


From Agence France-Presse:

BLOG Carbon dioxide

EnviroWatch: Soaring carbon, water woes, nukes


We begin with a diagnosis from the Guardian:

Record CO2 emissions ‘committing world to dangerous climate change’

  • Global greenhouse gas emissions on course to reach record high of over 40bn tonnes in 2014, study in Nature Geoscience says

Children born today will see the world committed to dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change by their young adulthood at current rates, as the world poured a record amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere this year.

Annual carbon dioxide emissions showed a strong rise of 2.5% on 2013 levels, putting the total emitted this year on track for 40bn tonnes. That means the global ‘carbon budget’, calculated as the total governments can afford to emit without pushing temperatures higher than 2C above pre-industrial levels, is likely to be used up within just one generation, or in thirty years from now.

Scientists think climate change is likely to have catastrophic and irreversible effects, including rising sea levels, polar melting, droughts, floods and increasingly extreme weather, if temperatures rise more than 2C. They have calculated that this threshold is likely to be breached if global emissions top 1,200 billion tonnes, giving a “carbon budget” to stick to in order to avoid dangerous warming.

Action from BBC News:

Climate change summit: Global rallies demand action

Street protests demanding urgent action on climate change have attracted hundreds of thousands of marchers in more than 2,000 locations worldwide.

The People’s Climate March is campaigning for curbs on carbon emissions, ahead of the UN climate summit in New York next week.

In Manhattan, organisers said some 310,000 people joined a march that was also attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Earlier, huge demonstrations took place in Australia and Europe.

The New York Times covers a sellout:

Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity From Fossil Fuels

John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels.

The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative.

From RT, another outbreak:

500,000 people ill with mosquito-borne virus in Dominican Republic

The mosquito virus chikungunya has left almost 500,000 people ill, and 109 of them are newborn babies, according to an official in the Dominican Republic hit by the disease.

The newborns contracted the illness from their mothers, who were ill while giving birth, Carmen Adames, the Health Ministry’s coordinator dealing with the outbreak, told AP. None of the children have died, she added.

The symptoms of the disease take three to seven days to appear, and include high fever, severe headaches and joint pain that can render a person virtually immobile for months. Research in the Indian Ocean islands has demonstrated that patients can suffer joint pains for as long as two years, depending on their age.

There is no vaccine for the illness at the moment, and no specific cure as well; on the positive side, it has rarely been deadly.

From News Corp Australia, Down Under torture by Alexion, a U.S.-based drug maker:

Patient nearly dies after being denied access to life-saving drug

A DRUG company denied a critically ill woman access to a life-saving drug this month because it wanted to ramp up pressure on Health Minister Peter Dutton to subsidise its $500,000 per patient per year medicine.

Mr Dutton had to intervene to pay for the medicine Soliris to save the woman’s life. The furious Health Minister told News Corp: “I won’t tolerate patients being used as pawns”.

Melbourne woman Toula Lockley, 42, suffers from a rare disease called aHUS that sees tiny blood vessels blocked, cutting off the blood supply to major organs.

From the Associated Press, California still ablaze:

32 structures destroyed in California wildfire

Officials say nearly three-dozen structures have been destroyed in an expanding wildfire in Northern California.

Capt. Tom Piranio, a fire information officer, says 10 residences and 22 outbuildings have been destroyed in the King Fire, according to preliminary figures released Sunday. Assessment teams were going back in dangerous conditions to survey more damage.

Smoky conditions from the fire also forced the cancellation of the popular Ironman Triathlon event in nearby Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

The fast-moving blaze located about 60 miles east of Sacramento has grown to more than 128 square miles. It has kept 2,800 people from their homes and remains 10 percent contained. About 100 people have been allowed to return home.

Context from the Christian Science Monitor:

Burning money: Cost of fighting wildfires robs funds to prevent them

The cost of fighting wildfires and protecting life and property from harm has exceeded $1 billion every year since 2000, eating into agency resources for forest management and fire preparedness – programs meant to prevent wildfires before they start

News from California this week made it seem as if half the drought-stricken state was ablaze with wind-whipped wildfires, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate, wrecking some vacation plans for Yosemite National Park, and torching hundreds of structures – including 143 homes in the small town of Weed.

All of that is happening and continues to happen as firefighters battle what fire officials say are 23 active wildfires around the state – 17 of those described as “uncontained large fires.”

So far this year, there have been slightly more wildfires (39,927) than there were in 2013 (38,208). But the total acreage burned so far in 2014 (3,002,842 acres) is significantly less than last year (4,006,080 acres).

From the Associated Press, California still dry:

Some California wells run dry amid drought

Hundreds of domestic wells in California’s drought-parched Central Valley farming region have run dry, leaving many residents to rely on donated bottles of drinking water to get by.

Girl Scouts have set up collection points while local charities are searching for money to install tanks next to homes. Officials truck in water for families in greatest need and put a large tank in front of the local firehouse for residents to fill up with water for bathing and flushing toilets.

About 290 families in East Porterville — a poor, largely Hispanic town of about 7,000 residents nestled against the Sierra Nevada foothills — have said their shallow wells are depleted. Officials say the rest of Tulare County has many more empty wells, but nobody has a precise count.

Other Central Valley counties also report pockets of homes with wells gone dry and no alternative water service.

Another water woe, this time from south of the border in Hermosillo, via the Associated Press:

Western Mexico state reports new mine spill

Authorities in northern Mexico have issued a new alert of a river spill from a copper mine operated by Grupo Mexico, the state director of civil protection said Sunday.

The agency is urging people to avoid using the water from after local municipalities complained of a toxic plume, said Carlos Arias, civil protection director for the border state of Sonora, where the spill occurred.

Arias said the tributaries affected drain into the Bacanuchi River. A flyover of the area shows an abnormal orange stain, he added. He said his department is taking measures to ensure people don’t come in contact with the water until it can be tested.

Bone dry in Old Blighty too with the Independent:

UK weather: Britain must be prepared for ‘worst droughts in modern times’

The UK must prepare for “the worst droughts in modern times” experts will warn this week at a major international conference to discuss the growing global water crisis.

As the population continues to grow and water is increasingly scarce, suppliers across Britain simply “cannot afford to fail”, according to Trevor Bishop, the Environment Agency’s deputy director. “We need to have more resilience, we need to be able to deal with tougher situations, and we cannot afford to fail. The consequences of failure would be very substantial,” he said.

“In the past we have planned for our water resources to cope with the worst situation on record but records are only 100 years long,” he explained. “We may get a situation that is worse than that – with climate change that is perfectly possible.”

Star Africa News covers African water woes:

Water shortage hits Somali regions

People and animals in the Galgagud, Hiran and Mudug regions of central Somalia have been hit by an acute shortage of water after almost a year without proper rainfall.The Commissioner of Mahas district in Hiran region, Mumin Mohamed Halane told the African Press Agency on Sunday that hundreds of rural people have flocked to towns in search of drinking water for them and their animals.

He said wells, waterholes and pools which whole communities had depended on to water their animals have dried up.

According to him, the situation has worsened in areas where al-Shabaab militants forcibly took away water generators from villages in an apparent scorch earth tactic against government troops and African Union peacekeepers.

And from the Express Tribune, water woes in the Subcontinent:

Uneasy neighbours: Pakistani experts to discuss water dispute in India

A three-member Pakistani delegation, led by Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig, left for India on Saturday amid hopes that the two arch-rivals would work out a solution to the decades-old water issues that have been bedeviling their bilateral relations.

“We are hopeful that India will show some flexibility on [Pakistan’s] reservations over the building of new dams in India,” Baig told reporters at Wagah border before crossing into India. During the five-day trip, the delegation will also visit four controversial sites on the Chenab River where New Delhi is planning to construct new dams. Reiterating that Pakistan’s objections over the design of Kishanganga dam were logical, Baig said that some serious doubts pertaining to the controversial project – particularly regarding the Neelum distributary point – and other dams on the Chenab River have already been allayed.

Experts, however, believe there is little or no hope of a breakthrough in talks as India is unwilling to entertain any Pakistani demands. Islamabad would have to move the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the dispute, they say. Baig said that his delegation would try their best to resolve all issues during their stay in India. But at the same time, he admitted that Islamabad would have no choice but to approach the ICJ if New Delhi did not entertain their ‘fair’ demands.

Last week, a 10-member delegation from India visited Pakistan to discuss the thorny water issues between the two nations. The talks, however, failed to make any headway as the Indian side refused to accept Pakistan’s demand for changing the design of Kishanganga dam.

And another kind of water woe from RT America:

Microbeads gumming up Lake Erie, your body

Program notes:

While cleaning patients’ teeth, a Phoenix dental hygienist discovered that Crest toothpaste contains tiny plastic “microbeads.” After a public backlash, Crest and many other companies are now removing the environmentally degrading ingredient from their products. RT’s Lindsay France takes a look at why consumers should be worried.

After the jump, China sends carbon soaring, Fukushima-damaged rice genes, other nuke-zone food heads to the market, a Japanese reactor complex shutdown contemplated, an Abe appointee pushes for restarts, underground reactors mulled, hot water testing, and a global reactor slowdown. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Lockdowns and street sweepers


We begin with two video reports, first from the London Telegraph:

God help us: a day on duty with Liberia’s doctors fighting Ebola

Program notes:

Liberia’s exhausted doctors are struggling to cope with the number of Ebola cases, which has far outstripped the capacity of the country’s war-ravaged health service.

Nearly half the patients admitted to Liberia’s JFK Ebola clinic in Monrovia die. A grim statistic by normal clinic standards, it is considerably better than the 70-90 per cent rates reported at the start of the outbreak, thanks to more people coming forward in the early stages of symptoms.

While treatment is simply a matter of keeping patients fed and hydrated in the hope that they fight the virus off, clinics like this are overwhelmed by demand. In this 35-bed facility, doctors are currently treating 69 people. Half of them are on the floor.

“There isn’t even adequate corridor space for us to walk between them. But if we turn them back into the community, they will infect other people,” says Dr J Soka Moses, the hospital’s clinical director.

Of the 2,200 Ebola deaths across West Africa so far, 40 per cent have been in Liberia. Aid agencies warn that up to 20,000 West Africans could have the virus by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, Washington announced it would be sending 3,000 US troops to Liberia in coming weeks to boost the medical effort.

Video by Will Wintercross

Next, from the American government’s Voice of America comes grim prognostication:

Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Program notes:

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA’s Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.

On to a countrywide lockdown with the Associated Press:

Sierra Leone reaches final day of Ebola lockdown

Frustrated residents complained of food shortages in some neighborhoods of Sierra Leone’s capital on Sunday as the country reached the third and final day of a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown designed to combat the deadly Ebola disease, volunteers said.

While most residents welcomed teams of health care workers and volunteers bearing information about the disease, rumors persisted in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful.

The streets of the capital, Freetown, were again mostly deserted on Sunday in compliance with a government order for the country’s 6 million residents to stay in their homes.

And as the lockdown neared the end of its third day, Sky News had numbers to report:

Ebola Lockdown: 92 Bodies Found In Sierra Leone

  • A three-day lockdown in Sierra Leone to combat the ebola epidemic leads to the identification of dozens of new infections

Ninety-two bodies and at least 56 new infections have been discovered in Sierra Leone during a nationwide ebola lockdown.

The three-day lockdown came into effect on Friday and is aimed at stemming the worst ebola epidemic on record. The country’s six million residents have been ordered to stay indoors as volunteers circulate to educate people about the outbreak and isolate the sick.

Stephen Gaojia, head of the Emergency Operations Centre which leads the ebola response, said the lockdown is likely to be extended. “There is a very strong possibility it will be extended,” Mr Gaojia said.

But some questions remain about whether or not the lockdown continues, since the Associated Press is reporting that it’s over

Sierra Leone concludes nationwide Ebola lockdown

Frustrated residents complained of food shortages in some neighborhoods of Sierra Leone’s capital on Sunday as the country reached the third and final day of a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown designed to combat the deadly Ebola disease, volunteers said.

While most residents welcomed teams of health care workers and volunteers bearing information about the disease, rumors persisted in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful.

The streets of the capital, Freetown, were again mostly deserted on Sunday in compliance with a government order for the country’s 6 million residents to stay in their homes.

And Star Africa News offers advice:

Sierra Leone official urges another lockdown

The deputy head of a Sierra Leone government agency responsible for attitudinal change Sunday called for another round of national lockdown to deal with the Ebola epidemic.Ms Nanette Thomas, Coordinator of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat, who is second in command in the office, said another round of a nationwide shutdown will help build on the
shortfall of the September 19 – 21 exercise.

A number of people have complained about the slow response to emerging issues, including burial of dead bodies discovered during the last two days.

There were also reports of delays in response to the emergency 117 call to collect sick people.

A video report on the lockdown from CCTV Africa:

More Ebola Victims Discovered following Sierra Leone’s 3 day Lockdown

Program notes:

The third and last day of lockdown is under way in Sierra Leone. Thousands of health workers are going door to door to educate people about Ebola and hand out soap. The lockdown’s also been put in place so new victims can be identified, and it looks like it’s yielding results. CCTV’s Susan Mwongeli reports

And from Star Africa News, another unfortunate consequence:

There is absolutely no price stability in Sierra Leone, a sorry legacy of the destructive civil war. But the Ebola epidemic has taken it to new heights.

The government’s defence has always been that the country is operating a liberal economy and so it cannot regulate prices, leaving businessman to go for the kill.

Commodities as common as pepper have increased in prices by 300 percent within the last few months. The price for a small cup of pepper used to be Le2000 ($0.4). Now it fetches for as high as Le 10, 000 ($2) a cup.

The lowest quality rice that used to cost Le 130, 000 ($30) per 50Kg bag, now costs Le160, 000 ($37). Higher qualities of rice cost as much as Le 300000 ($70).

On a regional level, officials of the 16-member Economic Community Of West African States are rethinking their strategy for handling the outbreak, reports Punch Nigeria:

ECOWAS seeks fresh approach to tackle Ebola

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, has called for a fresh approach to deal with the spread of the Ebola disease.

In line with this approach, he cautioned member states against taking unilateral actions capable of thwarting regional efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

Ouedraogo gave the warning at a dinner with media representatives, in Abuja, on Friday night.

From the Washington Informer, more concerns:

Ebola Weakens Already Fragile Nations

As the Ebola virus decimates their beloved country, Liberian ambassador to the United States Jeremiah C. Sulunteh and Marion Parker Cassell Nelson watch with horror and growing concern.

Since March, the tiny West African country has emerged as ground zero for Ebola, with the vast majority of cases and fatalities occurring there. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak has infected more than 4,900 West Africans and killed 2,400.

Over the last several days, WHO senior officials have warned that the virus will continue to spread exponentially in Liberia, as thousands of new cases are expected to come to light over the next three weeks.

“Some time in March, the government was able to discover Ebola that we understand started in Guinea,” said Sulunteh during a Sept. 13 interview. “With porous borders, Ebola spread to Lofa County. Liberian people were still in a state of denial. A lot of people took it for granted, didn’t take it seriously.”

An unusual front line regiment honored, from Punch Nigeria:

LASG commends street sweepers for Ebola containment

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, says the government was able to contain the Ebola Virus Disease as a result of the high standard of environmental sanitation in the state.

Fashola, who spoke on Saturday at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos, added that the result was due to the contribution of the state’s street sweepers who had been keeping the state clean in the last six years.

The governor, at the 6th Annual Training Workshop for Street Sweepers, noted that the state had no previous experience of what to do with EVD in an urban centre as all other experiences had happened in rural areas.

He said, “But you (street sweepers) were our first line of defence for our Ebola resistance. You are our sanitation ambassadors and this is the work you have continued to do.

“But for the high standard of environmental sanitation that you have helped us to achieve over the last six years, the battle to contain Ebola would have been more difficult. As of midnight on Thursday, September 18, 2014, Lagos became Ebola-free.”

Punch Nigeria again, with school bells silenced:

Ebola: No school resumption today in Lagos, 14 other states

Pupils in at least 15 states in the country will not return to their classrooms today as directed by the Federal Government.

This is because in most of the states, teachers are insisting that safety measures must be put in place to protect them and their pupils from contracting the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

In some of the states like Lagos and Ogun, the governments opted not to comply with the September 22 date until necessary Ebola safety kits were put in place in their schools. Also, the gates of the 104 Unity Schools in the country will be shut from today as their teachers commence an industrial action.

The other states where normal academic activities will not resume   are Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Benue, Niger, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states.

Teachers in Lagos will be on duty today but pupils will remain at home until October 8.

And from Punch Nigeria again, vigilance:

Ebola: All eyes on borders, ports

Two months after the late index case, Mr. Patrick Sawyer sneaked into Nigeria, the last patient has been discharged from the Infectious Disease Hospital, Lagos, and the cameras are clicking away. Cheering news that more secondary contacts of the index case are also being discharged from surveillance has given Nigeria a little reprieve. However, stakeholders are warning that eternal vigilance is mandatory if the nightmare is not to happen again.

Only last week, the World Health Organisation reported 700 new cases from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The development has raised concerns from stakeholders who have opined that it is not time yet to shout eureka.

Speaking at a recent media parley, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the country could not afford to be complacent as long as a single case of the disease existed in any part of the world.

Reuters covers another European evacuated:

Spain to repatriate from Sierra Leone priest diagnosed with Ebola

Spain on Sunday sent a military plane to Sierra Leone to repatriate a Spanish Catholic priest working in the African country who has tested positive for the Ebola virus, the government said.

Spain’s health ministry said in a statement that Manuel Garcia Viejo, a member of the Hospital Order of San Juan de Dios, worked in the Western city of Lunsar.

He is the second Spanish priest to be diagnosed with Ebola after Miguel Pajares, also a member of San Juan de Dios, who died last month after being brought back to Spain from Liberia.

And from DutchNews.nl, good news/bad news for another European:

Dutch ebola doctor actually has malaria

One of the two doctors brought back to the Netherlands after coming into connect with ebola patients in Sierra Leone actually has malaria, a spokesman for the public health institute RIVM said on Sunday.

‘The doctor was admitted to hospital with a temperature on Saturday evening – which is a sign of both ebola and malaria,’ the spokesman said. ‘Tests have shown he has malaria.’

The two doctors worked for the Lion Heart Foundation at a hospital in Sierra Leone. They arrived back in the Netherlands a week ago.

Want China Times offers diagnostic assistance:

Portable Ebola testing kits developed in China

A Chinese health researcher said on Friday that China has successfully produced portable kits to help with Ebola virus testing.

The kits use a diagnostic method based on viral RNA detection. They will be easier to use compared to lab testing, according to Li Dexin, a research fellow of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chinese researchers have worked with France’s Pasteur Institute and conducted tests on the product, which has the ability to test for the Ebola virus through viral RNA, antigen and antibody detection methods and will be used in Sierra Leone.

And the Guardian covers social adjustment:

‘Ebola makes you a risk to yourself: touching your face can infect you’

As Sierra Leoneans endure a lockdown to contain the virus, Monica Mark reports from Freetown on her own anxiety visiting hospitals and villages, and the key role of charities in fighting the epidemic

In a country where more than 500 have died after six months of Ebola – which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids – the “no touching” rule has become the norm. At the beginning of my 10-day trip to Sierra Leone, I went to shake a friend’s hand. He threw himself back against the wall with a panic that would have been comical if not for the fear on his face. Such reactions soon became as routine as having my temperature taken at road checkpoints and washing my hands in buckets of chlorinated water found everywhere.

I had only one more lapse. On my third day I was at the Médecins Sans Frontières treatment centre with my sister Katie, a documentary film-maker who was accompanying me, when I reached out to tuck a wisp of her hair that had come loose. The act was so natural, I didn’t even think about it. Suddenly a medic yelled across the field hospital: “No touching!”

The paranoia that seized me then didn’t leave until I returned home. Unlike other hostile situations I’ve covered over five years in west Africa – riots, wars and natural disasters – in this case people I cared about were the enemy. Ebola makes you a risk even to yourself: touching your eyes, nose or mouth can infect you. Now a stranger in a hospital was hugging me.

Finally, from Star Africa News, hopeful news in an isolated outbreak:

Ebola epidemic losing potency – DRC gov’t

The Ebola epidemic plaguing Djera, in the Equateur province northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo is on the verge of being contained, government spokesman Lambert Mende claimed.Speaking after Saturday’s cabinet meeting held in Kinshasa under the leadership of President Joseph Kabila, Mr. Mende said some success has been registered by the Congolese government and its partners to contain the epidemic where it was first detected 1200 km from the capital with a reduced infection rate.

Over the past ten days, no new cases of Ebola have been detected in Djera, Mende noted.

DR Congo has recorded 40 deaths since the Ebola outbreak in the area as of September 17, he added.