Lots of ground to cover today, so we begin with a dire warning, via Bloomberg:
Ebola Worst-Case Scenario Has More Than 500,000 Cases
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.
The report, scheduled to be released next week, was described by two people familiar with its contents, who asked to remain anonymous because it isn’t yet public.
The projection, which vastly outstrips previous estimates, is under review by researchers and may change. It assumes no additional aid or intervention by governments and relief agencies, which are mobilizing to contain the Ebola outbreak before it spirals further out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
And a complication, via Reuters:
Killings in Guinea show mistrust in Africa Ebola fight: WHO
The killing in Guinea of eight people trying to educate locals about Ebola showed how much rural populations in West Africa mistrust authorities after years of instability and conflict, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
Eight bodies were found after an attack on a team visiting remote southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday, showing the dangers faced by health workers fighting the deadly virus that is surrounded by suspicion and stigma.
Guinea was crippled by decades of corruption and political instability, and the other countries worst hit by the outbreak, Sierra Leone and Liberia, suffered civil wars in the 1990s. The legacy of these traumas now poses a risk to health workers battling Ebola, WHO expert Pierre Formenty said.
“This population in the forested area has really suffered a lot in the last 20 years. They are in a post-conflict behavior, there is lack of trust obviously between these populations and the different governments for the three countries,” Formenty told a news briefing in Geneva upon return from Liberia.
A further complication, via CCTV Africa:
Africa’s Food Security: FAO issues alert for Ebola affected countries
One in nine people — suffer from hunger. The latest UN report shows a decrease in world hunger, but fresh conflicts and the Ebola crisis is slowing down Africa’s efforts. Maria Galang has more.
Yet another, via Vice News:
Left to Die: Liberia’s Ebola Victims Have Nowhere to Turn as Treatment Centers Overflow
With the onset of Ebola, Liberia’s healthcare system is completely overstretched. People are dying of treatable diseases because they can’t get into hospitals, and pregnant women are giving birth in the street. Everything is collapsing.
An official familiar with the peace-building commission at the United Nations, which includes Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, said that one of the dangers of the current situation is that in fragile countries like Liberia, which is still recovering after 14 years of civil war, is that all problems in a country coming out of conflict are exacerbated: mistrust of state institutions, poverty, security issues, and distrust in government. “You’re looking at food prices going up and schools closed, wages not being paid, businesses wrecked,” said the official.
“Rightly so everyone is focused on the health crisis, but once the disease is halted, all these problems are going to need to be dealt with, and it’s things these countries were making progress with and all that progress is turned back,” he said.
From Bloomberg, yet another complication:
Ebola Is Katrina Moment for WHO’s Chan Hobbled by Budget
When Margaret Chan was elected to lead the World Health Organization, she said the agency’s priority was to improve the health of people in Africa.
Eight years later, the 67-year-old Chan is under attack for letting an Ebola outbreak there spiral beyond control, and this week her group found itself eclipsed as the leader of humanitarian efforts to control the epidemic.
The United Nations said it would create a separate Health Mission to coordinate care in West Africa, and the U.S. announced it would send 3,000 troops to build hospitals there. Those plans come after Chan delayed designating the outbreak as a global emergency until thousands were infected in three countries, and in the wake of complaints her agency had done too little to manage the response. Now, the WHO is in the awkward spot of being little more than a voice in the crowd, critics suggest, and Chan is seen by some as being partly to blame.
Punch Nigeria issues a plea:
UN seeks support for Liberia, others over Ebola
Mrs Jane Giogh, United Nations Children’s Education Fund representative in Nigeria, has appealed to countries with adequate human resources capacity to assist Liberia and Sierra-Leone to fight Ebola disease.
Giogh made the call in Port Harcourt on Friday in a chat with newsmen.
She said Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Guinea that were being ravaged by the disease had less human and financial capacities.
Star Africa News covers aid arrival:
First shipment of US military response to Ebola arrives in Liberia
A US military aircraft arrived in Liberia on Thursday with the first shipment of US military equipment and personnel for the anti-Ebola fight, in line with the promise made by President Barack Obama in his September 16 speech at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to a press statement received by APA Friday, the cargo included a heavy duty forklift, a drill set and generator and a team of 7 military personnel, including engineers and airfield specialists. The personnel are here to quickly assess the payload and stability of airport runways and the forklift will be used to offload incoming supplies.
The statement said an additional large military aircraft transporting more personnel and supplies, are expected to arrive in Monrovia in the coming days.
It adds that Major General Darryl Williams, in his capacity as Commander of US Army Africa and Operation United Assistance, has been in Liberia since Tuesday, meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other senior Liberian government officials to discuss the stepped up US response to the Ebola crisis.
CCTV Africa covers a second mission:
Ebola: AU to Send Second Medical Team to West Africa
The African Union is set to send a second Ebola response team to West Africa. This will be part of the organisation’s larger efforts to deploy experts over a six month period. However funding still remains a concern. Here’s CCTV’s Girum Chala with more details on that story.
From the Los Angeles Times, yet another complication and a profound moral issue:
A looming problem: How to ration Ebola vaccines and medicines
For doctors and public health officials trying to contain the Ebola epidemic, the dearth of drugs and vaccines is only part of the problem. Once these medicines become available, there certainly won’t be enough of them to go around.
So experts are devising ways to ration the precious products — and that forces them to ask some difficult questions:
Is the life of a physician worth more than a truck driver? Is a foreign aid worker more deserving of a vaccine than a nurse who lives in West Africa? Is it fair to turn thousands of at-risk people into clinical trial guinea pigs?
“It’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University.
Reuters covers drastic measures:
Ebola lockdown brings Sierra Leone capital to a halt
Streets in the capital of Sierra Leone were deserted on Friday as the West African state began a contested, three-day lockdown in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
President Ernest Bai Koroma urged people to heed the emergency measures, and only vehicles driven by police and health workers took to the normally bustling roads of Freetown.
Radio stations played Ebola awareness jingles on repeat and encouraged residents to stay indoors.
Nearly 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers aim to visit every household in the country of six million people by Sunday to educate them about the disease and isolate the sick.
From Businessweek, context:
Sierra Leone Ebola Burial Teams Struggle as Bodies Decompose
Ebola burial teams in Sierra Leone can’t keep up with the rising number of dead, and some bodies are left to decompose at home for days as test results for the virus are slow to arrive.
“We are overwhelmed as we bury between 20 to 30 corpses a day,” Sas Kargbo, head coordinator for Sierra Leone’s burial teams, said in an interview in the capital, Freetown. “We want capacity to determine the cause of death in 24 hours so that those who did not die of Ebola will be buried with dignity.”
President Ernest Bai Koroma on Aug. 7 ordered that corpses can’t be buried without the Ministry of Health’s authorization. The measure was meant to stop the virus from spreading by preventing people from organizing funerals for relatives. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected patient, including a deceased person, according to the World Health Organization.
BBC News lends a hand:
Ebola aid donated by UK to Sierra Leone
The UK is donating hundreds of hospital beds to Sierra Leone as it fights to contain the Ebola virus.
Of the 700 beds to be donated, 200 are “in the pipeline”, with the remaining 500 to be handed over in coming months. British army engineers will also identify sites in Sierra Leone where treatment centres can be built.
Vickie Hawkins, executive director of the main Ebola aid agency in West Africa, Medecins San Frontiers, welcomed the “increased commitment of resources from the UK government”.
From the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, measures to protect a huge gathering with participants from around the globe:
Hajj & Ebola: Pilgrims from Ebola infected countries will not attend
The Hajj Board says Ghana will not be used as a transit point for would-be pilgrims from any of the Ebola infected countries that have been denied visas into Saudi Arabia. This comes on the heels of the refusal by Saudi Arabia to grant visas to prospective pilgrims from Ebola-affected countries for fear of transmitting the virus. GBC visits the Hajj Village in Accra to find out whether any of the citizens from these infected countries have made their way into Ghana to travel to Mecca.
From Reuters, a reprieve:
Senegal says no risk of Ebola spreading from imported case
Senegal’s health minister said on Friday there was no further risk of Ebola spreading in the West African country, following the end of a quarantine period for those who came into contact with an infected Guinean man.
“The risk of the Ebola virus spreading from the imported case is non-existent for our country,” Awa Marie Coll Seck told a news conference.
Another clearance, from Punch Nigeria:
Lagos clears last Ebola suspect
The Lagos State Government on Friday said the last suspected case of the Ebola Virus Disease in the state had been cleared having tested negative after surveillance.
Gov. Babatunde Fashola disclosed this while giving an update on the virus at the Secretariat Central Mosque, Alausa, where he observed Jumat Prayers.
The governor said the development meant that the state was now Ebola free and that it was safe enough for schools to resume on Sept. 22.
Punch Nigeria with another clearance of sorts:
Ebola: Rivers, Oyo schools to resume Oct 6
The Rivers and Oyo states governments have declared October 6, 2014 as the resumption date for all public and private primary and secondary schools.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, who disclosed this on Friday while speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt, the capital city, said schools in Rivers would not resume on September 22, 2014 as earlier announced by the Federal Government as a result of the ongoing surveillance of some Ebola contacts.
He said, “We currently have 253 contacts under surveillance and we hope that by weekend, the number would have come down significantly. We expect that quite a number of those under surveillance would have been discharged in batches.
For our final item, the Washington Post offers qualified reassurance for the other side of the Atlantic:
Ebola outbreak in the U.S.? Probably not happening.
If the deadliest outbreak in history continues at its current pace, the probability of an exportation of Ebola to the United States by the end of September is between 3 and 15 percent, according to Alessandro Vespignani, a Northeastern University professor whose team has been continuously updating its model.
That range, Vespignani said, reflects the the best- and worst-case scenarios.
“These are relatively small probabilities,” Vespignani said in an interview this week. “If we have very good screening procedures, then the probability could be less. If we consider the worst-case scenario, we have basically a 15 percent probability.”