Category Archives: Wealth

EbolaWatch: Warnings, pols, patients, Africa


We begin today’s collection of reports from around the world [with special emphasis on African media] with a fascinating video from USA Today:

Watch CDC Director’s language change on Ebola crisis

Program notes:

CDC Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden shifts his statements as the Ebola crisis deepens.

Another video, from Texas Health Resources, focusing on America’s first endogenous Ebola patient:

Nina Pham Speaks from Her Room at Texas Health Dallas

Program notes:

Before Nina Pham departed Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas for the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center earlier today, she was visited by her treating physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein, who recorded his conversation with her before she was discharged. Ms. Pham asked that we share the video.

The latest from Dallas CBS affiliate KXAS:

Pham Transported to NIH in Maryland

Dallas nurse Nina Pham, the first person to contract the potentially deadly Ebola virus in the United States, appeared to be in good spirits in a rare, emotional video shot in her Dallas hospital room Thursday, just before she was flown to Maryland en route to the National Institutes of Health.

“Come to Maryland, everybody!” patient Nina Pham told Dr. Gary Weinstein and another health care worker treating her in the video, both of them wearing full protective suits, as the three of them became emotional. “I love you guys,” she said.

Pham, 26, was transported by ambulance Thursday afternoon from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to Love Field Airport, where she was able to walk up the stairs into a private jet for the flight to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.

She landed in Maryland just before 10 p.m. CDT for the ambulance ride to the National Institutes of Health.

And then there’s this from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Infected nurse’s quarantined dog may inspire Ebola pet protocols

Bentley, the dog owned by Ebola-stricken Texas nurse Nina Pham, is apparently thriving under quarantine – being fed, cared for and played with by Dallas workers in full protective gear.

In the process, the cute King Charles Spaniel has become a media phenomenon, with Twitter followers monitoring his progress through the city of Dallas feed @100Marilla.

His owner, who cared for the first U.S. Ebola victim at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was transferred Thursday to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

But medical experts still are considering how to treat pets, as public concern about the Ebola virus explodes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepare pet protocols.

The latest on the course of the epidemic from the Associated Press:

UN: Ebola death toll rising to 4,500 this week

The death toll from Ebola will rise this week to more than 4,500 people from the 9,000 infected and the outbreak is still out of control in three West African nations, a top official with the U.N. health agency said Thursday.

Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, director of the World Health Organization’s global capacities, alert and response, said new numbers show the outbreak is still hitting health workers hard despite precautions — with 427 medical workers infected and 236 dead — mainly because Ebola victims are most contagious around the time they die.

Nuttall said the focus of the world’s efforts should remain on the countries where the outbreak has been spreading out of control: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The Independent covers a parallel development:

Ebola outbreak: Famine approaches to add to West Africa’s torment

Sierra Leone’s fields are without farmers. Its crops go un-reaped. In the quarantine areas, feeding is patchy – some get food, others don’t. People then leave the enforced isolation in search of a meal, so Ebola spreads. In three West African countries where many already live a hand-to-mouth existence, the act of eating is increasingly rare.

Ebola, the virus that has ravaged Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea at an unprecedented rate, continues its devastating spread. The number of dead doubles with each passing month; the bodies unburied. More lives are devastated with each passing day.

And in the absence of a mass-produced vaccine, its treatment – enforced isolation, mass quarantines – now threatens to bring a new crisis: starvation.

Reassurance for some from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: WHO says major outbreak in West ‘unlikely’

Christopher Dye, WHO director of strategy, said the introduction of Ebola into the US or other countries in Western Europe was a matter “for very serious concern”

“The possibility that once an infection has been introduced that it spreads elsewhere, is something that everybody is going to be concerned about,” he said.

But he added: “We’re confident that in North America and Western Europe where health systems are very strong, that we’re unlikely to see a major outbreak in any of those places.”

And the Washington Post covers another side effect:

An epidemic of fear and anxiety hits Americans amid Ebola outbreak

Though Ebola’s dangers are real and terrifying, epidemiologists and other authorities say that, for now, its greatest mark could be on the psyche of the country where other health threats are more perilous.

President Obama late Wednesday sought to quell any risk of panic, telling the American people, “The dangers of your contracting Ebola, the dangers of a serious outbreak, are extraordinarily low.”

[A]ll over the country, Americans expressed deep anxiety about the threat of Ebola. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, two-thirds of Americans are worried about an Ebola epidemic in the United States, and more than 4 in 10 are “very” or “somewhat worried” that they or a close family member might catch the virus.

And the perspective of Tom Toles, the Post’s editorial cartoonist:

BLOG Toles

More from Al Jazeera America:

In battling Ebola, fighting panic is as critical as containing virus

  • Allaying fears while urging vigilance is a unique challenge for public health officials

As U.S. public health officials and hospital workers race to help contain the global Ebola epidemic, they are confronting an equally pressing challenge at home: tamping down public hysteria.

Although the virus has wreaked havoc on West Africa, claiming more than 4,400 lives, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization, only three cases have been diagnosed in the United States. The disease is not airborne and can be spread only through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is exhibiting symptoms. Still, the news that a second health care worker was infected in Dallas after caring for an Ebola patient and allegations by nurses that the hospital where he was treated had sloppy protocols have added to unease across the United States.

“Ebola is serious. People are understandably afraid of what it means and what the implications are for them,” said Peter Jacobson, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Michigan. “At the same time, we have really excellent public health professionals who are able to communicate the extent of the threat, what we know and what we don’t know.”

Ebolaphobia rampant, via the New York Times:

As Ebola Fears Spread, Ohio and Texas Close Some Schools

An Ebola-infected nurse’s air travel between Dallas and Cleveland has sent ripples of concern through at least two states, leading to school closings and voluntary isolations.

Schools in Texas and Ohio were closed on Thursday after officials learned that students and an adult had either been on the flight with the nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, or had contact with her while she was visiting the Akron area.

Both Ms. Vinson and another nurse who contracted Ebola, Nina Pham, were part of the medical team that treated an Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Ms. Vinson traveled from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she showed symptoms of the disease.

In Akron, Ohio, officials dismissed students at the Resnik Community Learning Center at midday and said it would remain closed until Monday. In a letter to parents, the schools superintendent in Akron, David W. James, said that “a parent at the school had spent time with Ebola patient Amber Vinson when she visited the area this past weekend.”

Another manifestation from the Los Angeles Times:

‘No Ebola here,’ college says after evacuation spurs rumors, fears

The student whose flu-related comments led to a classroom building at Southwestern College in Chula Vista being evacuated Thursday does not have Ebola, a college spokeswoman said.

The student has a sister in the hospital with flu-like symptoms. The sister was not near any Ebola patient or on any airline flight that such a patient may have taken, said college spokeswoman Lillian Leopold.

Concern about a possible Ebola connection spread through rumor and social media faster than officials could confirm whether the student or a family member had been exposed to the deadly virus, Leopold said. Within minutes, local media were reporting a possible Ebola connection.

Southwestern College said in a statement that it had evacuated and cordoned off Building 470 as a precaution. Emergency personnel from the city of Chula Vista were at the scene, but San Diego County public health officials did not send a team.

And from CNN:

How worried is the Pentagon about Ebola? Creating special Ebola boot camp and updating pandemic plans

And then there’s this, via BuzzFeed:

GOP Senator: ISIS Using Ebola Is A “Real And Present Danger”

  • Asked whether the U.S. should be concerned about ISIS militants bringing Ebola into the country, Sen. Ron Johnson said we should do everything possible to prevent such a thing

A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”

“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.

NewsMaxTV cited Al Shimkus, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, who said last week that that ISIS fighters could infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to U.S. as a form of biological warfare.

From The Hill, Obama concedes an issue to the Republicans:

Obama may appoint Ebola czar

President Obama on Thursday said it “may make sense” to appoint an Ebola czar to oversee the federal government’s response to the deadly virus.

Obama’s remarks represent a significant shift for the White House, which has rejected the czar idea repeatedly.

“It may make sense for us to have one person in part just so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process to make sure we’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s,” Obama said after meeting with top health officials in the Oval Office.

“If I appoint somebody, I’ll let you know,” he added.

And the latest American Ebola scare, via China Daily:

Patient with ‘Ebola-like symptoms’ admitted to Connecticut hospital

Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut was evaluating a patient with “Ebola-like symptoms” on Thursday and will likely know within 24 hours whether the person has the deadly disease, a hospital official said.

The patient is one of two Yale University graduate epidemiology students who traveled to Liberia last month to advise the health ministry on using computers to track Ebola, according to Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

“Yale-New Haven Hospital admitted a patient late Wednesday night for evaluation of Ebola-like symptoms. We have not confirmed or ruled out any diagnosis at this point,” the hospital said in the statement on its website.

Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said at a press conference that fever was among the patient’s symptoms and they were placed in isolation. Balcezak said the patient was in stable condition.

On to the politics and logistics from the Los Angeles Times:

‘We made mistakes,’ Dallas hospital chief says of Ebola crisis

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday defended his agency’s handling of the Ebola crisis while conceding the agency may have allowed a Texas nurse to fly on a commercial airline even though she was among a group of healthcare workers involved in treating the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the nation.

The hearing followed partisan lines, with Republicans pushing their agenda for closing the border with a ban on travel from West African countries where the Ebola virus has broken out. Democrats opposed such a ban and called for greater efforts to fight Ebola at the source in Africa. Some Democrats questioned the effect of GOP-backed budget cuts in curbing efforts to fight Ebola at home.

“People are scared,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable.”

More from the Washington Post:

CDC director’s challenge: Deadly Ebola virus and outbreak of criticism

“I am not protecting West Africa,” Tom Frieden, pacing in his office, tells an unhappy U.S. senator on the other end of a call from Washington. “My number one responsibility is to protect Americans from threats.”

Then: “Respectfully, sir, I don’t agree with you.”

A moment later: “I hope to regain your confidence.”

When he hangs up, Frieden doesn’t identify the senator, other than to say he was a Republican who wants an absolute travel ban on people from West Africa because of the Ebola epidemic. Frieden thinks that’s a misguided idea that will backfire, but the senator would not be persuaded.

“It was pingpong ball against iron safe,” he says.

From BBC News, a mixed report from the UN:

Ebola crisis: WHO signals help for Africa to stop spread

The World Health Organization is to “ramp up” efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus.

Fifteen African countries are being prioritised, top WHO official Isabelle Nuttall told a Geneva news conference.

They will receive more help in areas including prevention and protection.

But former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he is “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response.

More from the New York Times:

New U.N. Ebola Trust Fund Falls Far Short of Goal

The United Nations trust fund for Ebola has received barely one percent of the $1 billion that the world body says it needs to tackle the outbreak — and that too from only one country, Colombia, United Nations officials said Thursday.

It has received pledges of about $20 million from various governments, but only $100,000 in actual cash deposits.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, had earlier told reporters that the trust fund, announced in mid-September, had received $20 million in cash. His aides later clarified that the $20 million amount referred to pledges, not cash.

From the Guardian, a caution:

Ebola epidemic may not end without developing vaccine, scientist warns

  • Professor Peter Piot, one of the scientists who discovered Ebola, claims scale of outbreak has got ‘completely out of hand’

The Ebola epidemic, which is out of control in three countries and directly threatening 15 others, may not end until the world has a vaccine against the disease, according to one of the scientists who discovered the virus.

Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it would not have been difficult to contain the outbreak if those on the ground and the UN had acted promptly earlier this year. “Something that is easy to control got completely out of hand,” said Piot, who was part of a team that identified the causes of the first outbreak of Ebola in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976 and helped bring it to an end.

The scale of the epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea means that isolation, care and tracing and monitoring contacts, which have worked before, will not halt the spread. “It may be that we have to wait for a vaccine to stop the epidemic,” he said.

A de facto quarantine in Dallas from the Guardian:

Texas healthcare workers at risk of Ebola asked to stay out of public

  • Seventy-five staff members of Dallas hospital asked to sign ‘binding legal order’ that states they will avoid public spaces

Healthcare workers deemed to be at risk of contracting Ebola after dealing with a patient who died from the virus in Texas are being asked to sign voluntary agreements to stay away from the public, after Dallas authorities decided against declaring a state of emergency.

Seventy-five staff members from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital are being given a “binding legal document and order” that states they will avoid public transport, not go to areas where large numbers of people congregate, and continue to be monitored twice a day for symptoms, county judge Clay Jenkins said on Thursday.

Any of those involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan who refuse to sign the agreement would be subject to a legal control order, Jenkins told reporters after a meeting of the county commissioners court in downtown Dallas. “All the remedies of the law are available,” he said. However he said he believed this would not be necessary. “These are hometown healthcare heroes,” he said. “They’re not going to jail.”

One complication, via the Associated Press:

US monitors health care worker aboard cruise ship

Obama administration officials say a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is is being monitored for any signs of infection.

The officials say the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 17 days.

The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The officials say the State Department is working with a country they won’t identify to secure their transportation home.

Labaor relations complicated, via Al Jazeera America:

Dallas hospital refutes nurses’ allegation of haphazard Ebola protocols

  • Nurses’ union said hospital didn’t properly handle patient who died after becoming first Ebola case diagnosed in US

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas have countered allegations from a nurses’ union that sloppy protocols were used in dealing with Ebola at the facility, where Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — died last week. The hospital said Thursday the union’s assertions “do not reflect actual facts.”

The development comes as the U.S. government seeks to ramp up its response to the Ebola crisis after two Dallas nurses also became ill, the second of whom had been cleared to travel on a commercial flight a day before her diagnosis, it has been disclosed.

While Ebola patients are not considered contagious until they have symptoms and only two people are known to have contracted the disease in the U.S., the latest revelations about the handling of the situation have raised alarms about whether hospitals and the public health system are equipped to handle the deadly disease.

Reuters lays blame:

Experts fault changing U.S. guidelines on Ebola protective gear

When Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visited Ebola-stricken sites in West Africa last August, he was dressed in a full protective bodysuit and ventilator.

That level of protection was far greater than the basic gear the CDC initially recommended for U.S. hospital workers, which at minimum included a gown, a single pair of gloves, a mask and face shield.

After a second nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas fell ill with Ebola after caring for a dying Liberian patient, the CDC this week beefed up its recommendations for personal protective equipment to include hooded full-body suits that cover the neck, more frequent hand washing and a supervisor who oversees the removal of infected gear, steps experts said should have been done long ago.

From the Guardian, the clamor intensifies:

Ebola crisis: Republicans ramp up calls for west Africa travel bans

  • FAA assessing question ‘on a day-to-day’ basis
  • White House says measure would be counter-productive

Republicans are stepping up pressure for travel bans on passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa, calling for a vote on quarantine measures in the House of Representatives as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acknowledged it was assessing the question “on a day-to-day” basis.

The White House and senior US health officials continue to insist such measures would be counter-productive because they would hamper efforts to control the Ebola epidemic at its source, but the growing clamour from critics in Congress means the issue is becoming a major political battleground in Washington.

During the first hearing into the administration’s handling of the crisis in Washington on Thursday, a succession of Republican congressmen joined the House speaker, John Boehner, in calling on the administration to urgently review its opposition to tighter travel restrictions.

The inevitable, via BuzzFeed:

Boehner Won’t Say If Texas Should Have An Ebola Travel Ban, Too

The nation’s top elected Republican said Wednesday that travel should be halted from West African nations suffering from the Ebola outbreak.

House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday called for a “temporary” ban on flights from countries with Ebola outbreaks, but stopped short of calling for a travel ban for Texas, despite the fact that an Ebola-infected nurse flew to his home state of Ohio from Dallas earlier this month.

In a statement released by his office Wednesday evening, Boehner joined a growing chorus of Republicans insisting the Obama administration impose a travel ban on West African countries suffering from the Ebola conference.

Boehner invoked the Texas Ebola patient in calling for a ban on other parts of the world, saying, “Today we learned that one individual who has contracted the virus flew to Ohio through the Cleveland airport in the last few days. A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider.”

Asked if Boehner also believes flights from Texas to other parts of the country should be halted, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said by email Boehner “said [Obama] should consider a temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus along with any other appropriate actions. That’s where we are right now. Don’t have anything more.”

Meanwhile other countries are jumping on the travel banswagon. From the Associated Press:

Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad impose Ebola travel bans

Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday became the latest countries in the Western Hemisphere to restrict travelers from West African nations struggling with an epidemic of the Ebola virus.

The announcements came a day after Colombia and St. Lucia ordered similar prohibitions.

Authorities in Jamaica imposed an immediate entry ban on anyone who has been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within four weeks.

The ban was announced shortly after a U.S. couple was quarantined at Sangster International Airport in the northern tourist town of Montego Bay. Airport screeners found one of the Americans had been in Liberia two weeks ago. Officials said the couple was kept in quarantine, found to be healthy, and then sent back to an unspecified city in the U.S.

Guyana’s government said that country’s diplomatic missions had been directed not to issue visas to people from West African nations affected by the virus.

Trinidad & Tobago said it would deny entry any resident of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo or Sierra Leone. Other travelers who have visited any of those nations within six weeks will be quarantined for 21 days upon their arrival.

From Al Jazeera America, heightening intensity:

Obama authorizes National Guard call-up amid criticism over Ebola response

  • President signs executive order permitting Pentagon to use reservists, but resists calls for West Africa travel ban

President Barack Obama has authorized the Pentagon to call up reserve and National Guard troops if they are needed to assist in the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The United States has already committed to sending up to 4,000 military personnel to Ebola-stricken countries to provide logistics and help build treatment units to confront the rapidly spreading and deadly virus.

But amid rising criticism over the handling of the patients in the U.S., the White House resisted calls from Republican lawmakers that a travel ban be imposed on those wishing to fly to America from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — the countries that have been worst hit by the outbreak.

And some exceptional praise from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: US says Cuban medical support ‘welcome’

Cuba is a “welcome” addition to the fight against Ebola, a senior US official has said.

A state department spokesman said the Cuban government was doing more than many others to contain the disease. “We welcome their support,” she said. The US has maintained an embargo on Cuba for more than five decades.

Last month, Havana announced it would send about 450 medical and support staff to the region. The BBC’s Will Grant in Havana said that Cuba already had a tradition of sending its doctors and nurses to Africa before the recent Ebola outbreak.

Cuban officials are hosting a regional summit on the virus next week involving left-wing Latin American governments. Health ministers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador are expected to attend to discuss how to bolster the region’s response to the Ebola crisis.

On to Canada with CBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Harper tells Obama more help on the way

  • Republican lawmaker questions whether U.S.-Canada border needs to be better secured

Canada is about to announce new measures in the fight against Ebola, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday amid increased fear over the spreading virus.

The prime minister made the promise in a phone chat with Obama, according to a summary of the call released by Harper’s office.

CBC News learned Wednesday that Canada was contributing an additional $30 million to the fight against Ebola. The new measures will add to Canada’s current contribution of $5 million, as the United Nations pleads for more international help and warns that the virus must be contained within 60 days.

The growing sense of panic was also reflected in a congressional hearing Thursday in Washington.

One lawmaker even briefly questioned whether the northern border might need to be better secured. That improbable reference to the 49th parallel came from a Tennessee Republican, who during a House hearing asked whether America’s land borders were safe from the deadly virus.

After the jump, Canadian alarms, intensified screenings in Europe, good news for Europe’s first endogenous Ebola patient but joined by four new suspect patients, a Danish false alarm and increased aid, still more aid from Germany and Sweden, Latin leaders huddle for preparations plans while Asian and Euopean leader do the same, China and Japan assess strengths and weaknesses and Australia wages an internal political battle, on to Africa and a warning from the African Union, an Ebolaphobia-driven soccer tournament cancellation, from Sierra Leone, a harsh warning for the nation’s capital and a doctor’s despairing prognosis as the nation’s last Ebola-free district falls victim and the biggest corporate benefactor of the Ebola fight goes bankrupt, thence to Liberia where there’s a shortage of body bags, survivors find themselves isolated, healthcare workers go unpaid, children teach each other, a projected civil service purge draws fire, and questionable ‘cures’ flourish, plus economic despir in Zimbabwe and the Gambia. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Subsidizing what’s killing us


And taxing us to do it. . .

A stunning graphic from a new Oxfam report, Food, Fossil Fuels, and Filthy Finance [PDF]:

Post-tax fossil fuel subsidies in a sample of the world’s largest economies

Post-tax fossil fuel subsidies in a sample of the world’s largest economies

EbolaWatch: More alarms, politics, aid, Africa


Always Africa, because that’s where the disease originates and that’s where, at least for now, the overwhelming number of cases have originated [compared to two in the U.S. and one in Europe].

With a second American-born Ebola infection from the same Dallas hospital ward that was the petri dish spawning the, America has gone into full crisis mode [hence all those Republican calls for an Ebola Czar], and because of notable gaffes by the Centers for Disease Control allowing the infected hospital staff member to fly, all manner of alarms are shrieking [which must certainly amuse a lot of folks in West Africa].

Here’s the press briefing Barack Obama gave Wednesday following a special crisis cabinet meeting, via the White House:

President Obama Provides an Update on the U.S. Response to Ebola

Program notes:

On October 15, 2014, President Obama met with his Cabinet officials and CDC Director Tom Frieden to discuss the government’s response to Ebola.

More from the New York Times:

Obama Urges ‘Aggressive’ Monitoring of Ebola Threat in U.S.

President Obama on Wednesday directed his aides to monitor the spread of Ebola in the United States “in a much more aggressive way,” but said the American people should remain confident in the government’s ability to prevent a widespread outbreak of the deadly disease.

After a two-hour meeting of cabinet-level officials who are in charge of the government’s response to the virus, Mr. Obama promised that a review of the recent Ebola cases in Dallas would determine what went wrong that allowed two nurses to be infected.

With a video link to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, the president said he had ordered health officials to determine, “How we are going to make sure that something like this isn’t repeated.”

And then there’s this, from the Washington Post [and note the four editorial cartoons posted earlier today]:

An epidemic of fear and anxiety hits Americans amid Ebola outbreak

Ebola started as a faraway thing, and that was scary enough. Then it jumped to a Dallas hospital, where one man died and two nurses were infected. On Wednesday, Ebola took a different kind of leap — a psychological one — as concerns spiked nationally about how the threat of the virus might interfere with commerce, health and even daily routines.

As authorities disclosed that an infected nurse had taken a flight from Cleveland to Dallas one day before showing symptoms, Ebola moved closer to becoming the next great American panic — an anthrax or SARS for the social media age.

Across the country, workers and travelers took symbolic safety steps, wearing sanitary masks or lathering with hand sanitizer. Airline stocks fell as investors bet on a slowdown in travel due to Ebola concerns. Children living near Washington Dulles International Airport told a psychologist about their fears of contracting the disease.

Now on to the day’s other alarms, first Deutsche Welle:

UN Security Council: ‘dramatically expand’ Ebola response

  • The UN has issued a unanimous Security Council statement urging the international community to “accelerate and dramatically expand” aid to combat the spread of Ebola. It also criticized the global response to date.

The UN has issued a unanimous Security Council statement urging the international community to “accelerate and dramatically expand” aid to combat the spread of Ebola. It also criticized the global response to date.
Liberia Streikaufruf

The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a statement warning that the world’s response to Ebola “has failed to date to adequately address the magnitude of the outbreak and its effects.”

The council also urged all member states and aid organizations to “accelerate and dramatically expand the provision of resources and financial and material assistance” to West Africa, where the vast majority of Ebola cases and deaths have been recorded. The UN called for mobile laboratories, field hospitals, trained clinical personnel, therapies, and protective gear for carers.

The council statement also strongly urged airlines and shipping companies to maintain trade and transport links to the countries, “while applying appropriate public health protocols.” The statement also expressed concerns about the effects of trade and travel restrictions, warning against “acts of discrimination against the nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the three worst-hit countries.

More grim news, via Reuters:

Medical charity says has reached limit in fight against Ebola

Medecins Sans Frontieres, a medical charity that has been at the forefront in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, said it was reaching its limit and urgently needed other organizations to step up the efforts against the deadly disease.

The organization currently operates six centers in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a total of 600 beds. Its personnel on the ground have grown from about 650 at the start of August to about 3,000 currently.

“We have increased our capacity a lot,” said Brice de le Vingne, director of operations for MSF, which is also known as Doctors Without Borders. “Now we have reached our ceiling.”

De le Vingne called on other actors, such as governments and international organizations, to up their game.

The latest numbers from Voice of America:

WHO: West Africa Ebola Deaths Near 4,500

A total of 4,493 people have died from the world’s worst Ebola outbreak on record as of October 12, statistics released by the World Health Organization showed on Wednesday.

WHO said a total of 8,997 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola had been reported in seven countries, with the vast majority of these in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In Spain and the United States, a handful of healthcare workers are ill, while Senegal and Nigeria appear to have prevented further spread of the disease, the WHO said.

“It is clear…that the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and persistent transmission of (Ebola),” the WHO report stated.

The breakdown from the UN report [PDF]. Click on the image to enlarge:

BLOG Ebola victims

From the McClatchy Foreign Staff, more grim news:

Concerns mount Ebola will become a permanent scourge in West Africa

As the number of Ebola patients continues to climb in West Africa, concern is growing among medical and development experts that the scourge could become as serious as the one posed by HIV a decade ago – and could be far more difficult to control.

The prospect engenders fears not only that what had been an occasional and easily controlled disease that in the previous 40 years had struck only 1,600 people will become a constant presence in the region, but that it also will sap what little economic energy exists in the poor nations where it is currently felt most seriously, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Experts note that the HIV/AIDS epidemic that swept southern Africa in the early 2000s required billions in international aid to bring under control and remains a major health concern throughout the continent.

“HIV is hard to get relative to Ebola,” said David Evans, a World Bank senior economist and the author of a recent World Bank study on Ebola’s likely impact. “I actually expect if we don’t get this under control quite quickly, we could see something even worse than what we saw with HIV in the early part of the century.”

From Sky News, another Ebola alarm:

Ebola Could Spread Globally, Obama Warns

Ebola could spread globally if the world does not respond to the epidemic in Africa, Barack Obama has warned.

The President also said US monitoring of ebola must be “much more aggressive”.

He insisted the second case of an infected nurse in Dallas highlights the need to ramp up efforts to confront the disease that has struck West Africa and has reached US shores.

The President spoke after meeting top Cabinet officials involved in the ebola response both in the US and in the West African region where the disease has been spreading at alarming rates.

And from the New York Times, the latest media furor:

New Ebola Case Confirmed, U.S. Vows Vigilance

New shortcomings emerged Wednesday in the nation’s response to the Ebola virus after it was revealed that a second nurse was infected with Ebola at a hospital here and that she had traveled on a commercial flight the day before she showed symptoms of the disease.

The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, 29, was on the medical team that cared for the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan after he was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28 and put in isolation. Ms. Vinson should not have traveled on a commercial flight, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said after learning that she was a passenger on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 on Monday, flying from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth.

But hours after the director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, made that statement, one official said that Ms. Vinson had indeed called the C.D.C. before boarding the plane, but was allowed to fly because she did not have a fever.

A second case of Ebola among the nearly 100 doctors, nurses and assistants who treated Mr. Duncan for 10 days at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was not unexpected. For days, federal health officials have warned that in addition to Nina Pham, the first nurse in Dallas to receive an Ebola diagnosis, other cases were likely.

Here are the before and after stories, with the Before first [making it a tautology] from the Los Angeles Times:

Ebola-infected nurse broke protocol, should not have flown home, CDC says

One of two nurses at a Dallas hospital who tested positive for Ebola should not have flown Monday on a commercial airline, officials said Wednesday, and she was transferred Wednesday evening to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

The nurse, who had treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, traveled on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas, arriving Monday night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The woman reported symptoms of Ebola early Tuesday and went to the hospital, where she was placed in isolation.

The woman was among a group of as many as 76 healthcare workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital involved in treating Duncan, who died Oct. 8. CDC Director Tom Frieden said the nurse should not have been traveling by air and he pledged that his agency would work to ensure that others in the group heeded CDC guidelines on self-monitoring.

And the After from the London Telegraph:

US health officials allowed nurse who treated Ebola patient on plane with slight fever

Amber Vinson – second nurse from Dallas Presbyterian Hospital to be diagnosed with Ebola – told CDC her temperature was (37.5 Celsius), but CDC did not say not to fly

A second Texas nurse who has contracted Ebola told a US health official she had a slight fever and was allowed to board a plane from Ohio to Texas, a federal source said on Wednesday, intensifying concerns about the U.S. response to the deadly virus.

Amber Vinson, 29, flew from Cleveland, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas, on Monday, the day before she was diagnosed with Ebola, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Vinson told the CDC her temperature was (37.5 Celsius. Since that was below the CDC’s temperature threshold of 100.4F, “she was not told not to fly,” the source said.

More from Al Jazeera America:

Feverish health worker flew commercial with Ebola, raising fears of spread

  • Contagion to hospital staff ‘an accident waiting to happen’; union calls for better safety standards

A second Texas health worker who contracted Ebola from a sickened patient flew on a commercial domestic flight with an elevated temperature before being diagnosed, health officials said on Wednesday, raising new concerns about U.S. efforts to control the disease and the guidelines given to health care professionals.

Chances that other passengers on the plane were infected are very low, but the nurse should not have been traveling on the flight, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Thomas Frieden told reporters. Echoing concerns that the U.S. has not been sufficiently stringent in its efforts to keep the disease’s spread in check, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the country needed to monitor Ebola “in a much more aggressive way.”

The latest hospital employee to come down with symptoms of the virus, Amber Vinson, 29, was isolated immediately after reporting a fever on Tuesday, Texas Department of State Health Services officials said. She was among those who treated Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas hospital. Duncan, who flew from Liberia via Europe, later died.

Still more from the Los Angeles Times:

Frontier jet that carried Ebola patient made five more flights

The Frontier Airlines jet that carried a Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola made five additional flights after her trip before it was taken out of service, according to a flight-monitoring website.

Denver-based Frontier said in a statement that it grounded the plane immediately after the carrier was notified late Tuesday night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the Ebola patient.
Routes of plane that carried healthcare worker

Flight 1143, on which the woman flew from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, was the last trip of the day Monday for the Airbus A320. But Tuesday morning the plane was flown back to Cleveland and then to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., back to Cleveland and then to Atlanta and finally back to Cleveland again, according to Daniel Baker, chief executive of the flight-monitoring site Flightaware.com.

The accompanying graphic:

BLOG Ebola plane

Still more from Reuters:

Ohio Health Department tracing contacts of second nurse with Ebola

The Ohio Health Department said it is tracing contacts of a second Texas nurse diagnosed with Ebola who flew from Cleveland to Dallas one day before she tested positive for the virus.

The department is also working with airline officials to track down additional people the nurse may have come into contact with, spokesman Jay Carey said. It is waiting on additional instructions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Texas Health Department, Carey said.

And from the Associated Press, posting the bans:

St. Lucia: No visitors from Ebola-stricken nations

The leader of the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia issued an order Wednesday to immediately bar entry to travelers coming from three West African nations overwhelmed with Ebola epidemics.

The Colombian government in South America later announced it would not allow in anyone who has traveled to five African nations within the preceding four weeks.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said all visitors from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were prohibited from entering his country until the Ebola outbreak is brought under control, saying the ban will minimize chances for the deadly disease to be introduced by an infected traveler.

The Associated Press covers a consequence:

Fresh Ebola fears hit airline stocks

News that a nurse diagnosed with Ebola flew on a plane full of passengers raised fear among airline investors that the scare over the virus could cause travelers to avoid flying.

Shares of the biggest U.S. airlines tumbled between 5 and 8 percent before recovering in afternoon trading. The overall market slumped on concern about slowing global economic growth, but recouped some losses late in the day.

Health officials downplayed the possibility that any of the 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth could have been infected, because the nurse showed no Ebola symptoms during the flight. Nonetheless, public health officials were notifying other passengers.

And the latest on that new patient from the London Daily Mail:

Second Ebola-stricken nurse, 29, arrives in Atlanta as it’s revealed she was given permission by CDC to fly on a commercial flight the day before she was diagnosed – despite having low-grade fever

  • Nurse Amber Jay Vinson, 29, originally from Akron, Ohio, is ‘ill but clinically stable’ after reporting a fever at Texas Presbyterian in Dallas on Tuesday
  • On Wednesday, she boarded a plane to Atlanta and landed there around 7:45pm Eastern Time, to be treated at Emory University Hospital
  • Ebola patients Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly were kept in a specially-equipped isolation unit at the Atlanta hospital in August after contracting the disease in Liberia. They are now both free of the virus
  • Miss Vinson flew on Monday on a Frontier Airlines flight with a 99.5F fever from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she was diagnosed with Ebola
  • It was revealed that the nurse called the CDC several times asking for permission to board the flight with a low-grade fever
  • When she finally got through, an agency representative said it was OK since her temperature was below the fever threshold
  • Three relatives were in contact with Miss Vinson before she was isolated
  • White House said today that Obama cancelled a trip to New Jersey and Connecticut to hold an Ebola meeting with his Cabinet
  • Miss Vinson was one of 76 medical staff who cared for Thomas Duncan
  • The 29-year-old lives alone and has no pets; her home was being decontaminated on Wednesday by hazmat teams.

Another cause for concern from the Independent:

Ebola in Texas: Nurses treated victim ‘without proper protective gear’ in hospital where hazardous waste was ‘piled to ceiling’

Nurses at a Texas hospital caring for a patient with Ebola have described chaotic scenes at the ward where he was treated, with hazardous waste “piled up to the ceiling” and staff forced to work without proper protective gear.

A statement from nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital read by the National Nurses United (NNU) said those caring for Ebola victim Thomas Duncan were forced to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments.

They were particularly worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhoea and projectile vomiting, Deborah Burger, the co-president of the NNU claimed.

Some of the nurses caring for Mr Duncan were allegedly also caring for other patients in the hospital.

More from the London Daily Mail:

Nurses caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan didn’t wear hazmat suits for TWO DAYS after he was admitted to hospital

  • Shocking revelation comes from Ebola patient’s medical records
  • Nurses didn’t wear protective clothing to care for Duncan until after his Ebola diagnosis was confirmed
  • Two nurses who looked after Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have been infected with the disease
  • Nurses union alleges that necks and wrists were exposed and some nurses were told they didn’t need to wear face masks

More impacts from the Guardian:

Ebola and economic concerns affect European and US stockmarkets

  • Price of oil pushed to four-year low, while FTSE 100 experiences biggest one-day fall since June 2013

Fears of a worldwide economic slowdown and anxiety about the spread of Ebola reverberated around stock markets Wednesday, driving shares on both sides of the Atlantic sharply down and pushing the price of oil to a four-year low.

The FTSE 100 closed down 181 points or 2.8% at 6,211, knocking £46bn off the value of Britain’s top companies. This was its lowest level and biggest one-day fall since June last year. It was also close to a 10% decline from its recent peak on 4 September.

In New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped sharply after European markets closed, slumping 420 points – 2.5% – and dipping below 16,000 before rebounding to 16,141. Its recent high was 17,265, reached on 18 September, the day before the record-breaking float of Alibaba, the vast Chinese internet business.

Another scare with more insidious impact from StarAfrica:

African visitor faces UK Ebola backlash

A Sierra Leonean man identified as Amara Bangura has been feeling dejected after being rejected housing in the United Kingdom after two landlords told him they were scared he may have Ebola.The 33-year-old travelled from his native West African country two weeks ago to Norwich to study a Master’s Degree at the University of East Anglia in England.

But on arrival he was shocked to find that landlords were stopping him from staying at their properties out of fear of the killer disease which has killed 4, 400 people in West Africa since March.

He went public, on Wednesday and revealed how he was initially accepted by homeowners before having his application rejected.

A false alarm in Copenhagen from TheLocal.dk:

Ebola scare closes CPH police station

A false ebola alarm temporarily closed down the Copenhagen Police’s Station City on Tuesday evening.

Police say that an African man who had recently been in Nigeria was brought into Station City and displayed symptoms “that the police couldn’t rule out” were consistent with ebola, according to a police press release.

The man in question was quickly isolated and a doctor was called to the police station. After the doctor quickly determined that it was not ebola, things went back to normal.

On to Spain, the only European country with a homegrown Ebola case, also a hospital worker and a health update from El País:

Ebola victim able to drink liquids; has spoken to husband by phone

  • Teresa Romero’s condition has improved but relatives warn she could still have a relapse

Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who contracted Ebola after treating a patient with the virus at a Madrid hospital, is back on a liquid diet and has been able to talk to her husband on the phone, a family friend told the press on Wednesday.

While Romero still “doesn’t remember a lot of things” and is still in a serious condition, her team of doctors are “hopeful” and there is a feeling of “optimism regarding her chances of overcoming the disease,” said Teresa Mesa, a friend who is acting as a spokesperson for the family.

On Wednesday morning, Health Minister Ana Mato said that Romero was still in a stable but serious condition.

And another Spanish Ebola story with a Yankee twist from El País:

US asks to use Spanish bases for Ebola mission in Africa

  • Returning aircraft would stop over in Morón and Rota in Andalusia to refuel and rest

The United States has asked Spain for permission to use its military bases in Andalusia in its international operation against the Ebola virus.

Washington wants its aircraft returning from areas of risk in western Africa to be allowed to stop at the US bases in Morón de la Frontera (Seville) and Rota (Cádiz).

Spanish military health officials are negotiating “strict protocols” with the Pentagon to ensure that the 3,000 US military personnel who take part in operation Unified Assistance will not spread the virus during their stopovers in Spain, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Another European Ebola scare, but with a nasty twist from BBC News:

Czech Ebola error sparks Ghana row

Czech medical workers have sparked a diplomatic row after they covered a Ghanaian student in black plastic and rushed him to quarantine over unfounded fears that he had Ebola.

The student was apparently suffering nothing more than a bad cold.

Ghana’s Prague envoy Zita Okaikwe told the BBC that her government would lodge a formal complaint over the incident.

Ghana has not been affected by the worst ever Ebola outbreak, which has killed thousands in West Africa.

Here’s the raw footage of the incident we featured in the 13 October EbolaWatch, via Media News:

From the Associated Press, Ebolaphobia Down Under:

Australia readies for possible Ebola outbreak

Australia’s prime minister is resisting pressure to send doctors and nurses to West Africa to fight the Ebola crisis, saying his government is focused on preparing for a potential outbreak of the deadly disease in the Asia-Pacific region.

A petition by 113 Australian health professors sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday calls on him to send a medical team as well as troops to battle the disease that has killed almost 4,500 people in West Africa this year.

Senior opposition lawmakers backed the call in letter to key government ministers on Thursday.

After the jump, it’s on to Africa and one bright spot in an Ebola zone, a food supply alarm, Ebola’s corrosive effect on human rights, An experimental drug arrives from China for clinical trials [and note who it’s for], a report of the defeat of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on to Sierra Leone and help arriving, then on to Liberia and a healthcare worker strike action ended, good news from one county, the sometimes horrible price paid by crime victims and the ill, allegations of aid corruption, the issuance of hundreds of Ebola get-out-of-jail-free cards, on to Guinea, where another election delay attributed to Ebola is meeting stiff opposition, ten on to Uganda, where survivors of a 2000 Ebola outbreak are being mobilized to help in the Hot Zone. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Ills, climate, fracking, nukes


We begin today with another reminder that Ebola is only one of health crises facing Africa with this from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation:

Cholera outbreak at the Upper Denkyira East

Program notes:

The people of Upper Denkyira East are appealing to the government
to complete construction of the clinic and provide more places of
convenience.

This is in the wake of a cholera outbreak in the municipality. Currently over thirty eight cases have been recorded with no deaths.

The Verge covers other microbes:

NYC rats are infected with at least 18 new viruses, according to scientists

  • Fortunately bubonic plague was not found

Rats: some people enjoy their company as pets, to many others, they are virulent pests that helped the spread of the bubonic plague (“black death”) in Medieval Europe. For New Yorkers, they are just one of many interesting local daily sights on the subway tracks and platforms. I can tell you from experience (source: I live in New York City) that they often seem healthier and in better spirits than many of the humans that call this fair city home. Yet it turns out some of them are carrying a surprising number of previously undocumented viruses, according to the results of a study of the Big Apple’s rodents published today in the journal mBio and reported by The New York Times.

Specifically, scientists captured 133 rats from traps set in five locations around New York City, euthanized them, then took genetic samples of the bacteria specimens found in their tissues and excretions (saliva, feces, etc). The scientists found lots of viruses, not surprisingly. But while many of the bacteria detected were expected — including e. coli and salmonella — the scientists also found at 18 completely new viruses. None of these new viruses have been found in humans, at least not yet, but two of them are structurally similar to Hepatitis C, which does occur in people and raises the risk of liver scarring and cancer. While there’s no immediate cause for alarm, the scientists note that that the spread of these new viruses from rats to humans could theoretically already be occurring and is possible in the future, and are advocating for more comprehensive disease monitoring in humans. Something to think about the next time you’re waiting for the downtown F train.

From the Guardian, another African tragedy:

China ‘main destination’ for illegally traded chimpanzees

  • Baby chimpanzees are being hunted and sold to populate country’s growing number of wildlife parks and zoos, reports

Karl Ammann, in Beijing to show a new documentary on China’s involvement in the illegal trade in chimpanzees, is blunt: “China is the biggest destination for illegally traded chimpanzees.” Almost all chimpanzees performing in Chinese zoos have been obtained illegally, he says.

Ammann, a 66-year-old Swiss wildlife photographer who once said “the lens is my weapon”, was in 2007 named as a Time magazine Hero of the Environment. He first published images of illegal wildlife smuggling in publications including the New York Times and National Geographic20 years ago – showing readers around the world the truth of the bloody trade.

On to climate, with a fascinating video from NASA Goddard:

The Arctic and the Antarctic Respond in Opposite Ways

Program notes:

The Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that have a lot of ice and acts as air conditioners for the Earth system. This year, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum extent while the Arctic reached a minimum extent in the top ten lowest since satellite records began. One reason we are seeing differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic is due to their different geographies. As for what’s causing the sea increase in the Antarctic, scientists are also studying ocean temperatures, possible changes in wind direction and, overall, how the region is responding to changes in the climate.

And a water warning from the Guardian:

Sea level rise over past century unmatched in 6,000 years, says study

  • Research finds 20cm rise since start of 20th century, caused by global warming and the melting of polar ice, is unprecedented

The rise in sea levels seen over the past century is unmatched by any period in the past 6,000 years, according to a lengthy analysis of historical sea level trends.

The reconstruction of 35,000 years of sea level fluctuations finds that there is no evidence that levels changed by more than 20cm in a relatively steady period that lasted between 6,000 years ago and about 150 years ago.

This makes the past century extremely unusual in the historical record, with about a 20cm rise in global sea levels since the start of the 20th century. Scientists have identified rising temperatures, which have caused polar ice to melt and thermal expansion of the sea, as a primary cause of the sea level increase.

A two-decade-long collection of about 1,000 ancient sediment samples off Britain, north America, Greenland and the Seychelles formed the basis of the research, led by the Australian National University and published in PNAS.

From BBC News, a new permutation:

Climate change: Models ‘underplay plant CO2 absorption’

Global climate models have underestimated the amount of CO2 being absorbed by plants, according to new research.

Scientists say that between 1901 and 2010, living things absorbed 16% more of the gas than previously thought.

The authors say it explains why models consistently overestimated the growth rate of carbon in the atmosphere.

But experts believe the new calculation is unlikely to make a difference to global warming predictions.

From the Guardian, even castles?:

UK to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under homes

  • Proposed amendment in infrastructure bill would make mockery of world class shale gas regulation claims, campaigners say

The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill which will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The legal change makes a “mockery” of ministers’ claims that the UK has the best shale gas regulation in the world, according to green campaigners, who said it is so loosely worded it could also enable the burial of nuclear waste. The government said the changes were “vital to kickstarting shale” gas exploration.

Changes to trespass law to remove the ability of landowners to block fracking below their property are being pushed through by the government as part of the infrastructure bill.

It now includes an amendment by Baroness Kramer, the Liberal Democrat minister guiding the bill through the Lords, that permits the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”.

The Guardian again, desperate measures:

Lost Louisiana: the race to reclaim vanished land back from the sea

  • World’s fastest submerging state is looking to nature in an ambitious plan to turn back the tide, and to BP to fund it – but will it work?

Louisiana is losing land to the sea faster than anywhere else in the world.

But the authorities say they have a plan to turn back the seas – and get BP to pay a substantial share of the $50bn (£31bn) cost out of criminal penalties from the blowout of its well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The plan includes proposals for more than 100 engineering projects along the coastline, diverting the Mississippi, dumping fresh sand on barrier islands, and re-planting degraded wetlands to reinforce the coast. The state’s computer forecast shows that, if all the projects come in on time, by 2060 Louisiana could start regaining land.

The big question is: will it work?

Next up, Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with NHK WORLD:

Briefing on Fukushima waste storage plan completed

The Japanese government has completed a series of briefings on its plan to build intermediate storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government plans to buy up land in Futaba and Okuma Towns that host the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to house facilities to store radioactive soil and other waste.

The series of 12 sessions for landowners in the 2 towns began in September after the Fukushima prefectural government accepted the construction of the storage facilities.

Things are heating up, via News On Japan:

Cesium level rises in TEPCO plant well

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday reported a sharp rise in cesium levels in water collected from an observation well near the sea at its disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

Water samples collected Monday contained a record 251,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter, 3.7 times the cesium level in water collected on Thursday.

The well, located to the east of the damaged No. 2 reactor, is one of the observation wells that sit close to the seawall in the port of the northeastern Japan nuclear power station. Monday’s reading was the highest level that has been marked by water samples from any of these wells.

Of the total, cesium-134 accounted for 61,000 becquerels and cesium-137 190,000 becquerels.

From NHK WORLD, a precautionary failure:

Official arrested over iodine stockpile failure

Japanese police have arrested a former prefectural official on suspicion of forging documents to conceal not having purchased iodine tablets to prepare for a possible nuclear accident.

The suspect, Junichi Ito, handled medical and pharmaceutical affairs for the government of Niigata Prefecture in central Japan.

In April, the prefecture was found to have failed to procure more than 1.3 million iodine tablets for over a year. The tablets are said to protect the thyroid gland from radiation exposure.

The prefecture said Ito concealed the failure to make the purchase. It has filed a criminal complaint against him

And our final item, from the Japan Times:

Japan to pressure South Korea to lift ban on seafood from Fukushima, seven other prefectures

Tokyo plans to use foreign pressure to get South Korea to remove its import ban on seafood produced in eight prefectures, including Fukushima, officials said Tuesday.

The central government will continue expressing its concern about South Korea’s import ban at meetings of the World Trade Organization by saying that the South Korean measure runs counter to international trade rules.

Tokyo will appeal to the international community so that it can resume exports of seafood from the eight prefectures to South Korea, according to the officials.

EbolaWatch: More alarms, US angst, African woes


And much, much more. . .

We begin with a shrieking alarm, via the Guardian:

WHO warns 10,000 new cases of Ebola a week are possible

  • UN agency says fatality rate at 70% and that ‘a lot more people will die’ unless world steps up its response to crisis

The Ebola outbreak could grow to 10,000 new cases a week within two months, the World Health Organisation warned on Tuesday as the death toll from the virus reached 4,447 people, nearly all of them in west Africa.

Dr Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, told a news conference in Geneva that the number of new cases was likely to be between 5,000 and 10,000 a week by early December.

WHO’s regular updates show that deaths have resulted from 4,447 of the 8,914 reported cases, but Aylward said that any assumption that the death rate was 50% would be wrong. He put the death rate at 70% because many deaths are not reported or recorded officially.

Where detailed investigations have been carried out, it was clear that only 30% of people were surviving, he said, adding that the figure was almost exactly the same in the three hardest hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “This is a high-mortality disease in any circumstances but particularly in these places,” said Aylward.

More from Sky News:

Sixty Days To Beat Ebola, United Nations Warns

  • If the deadly outbreak cannot be reined in by Christmas then the UN says there is no plan in place and it could be overwhelmed

The UN says the ebola outbreak must be controlled within 60 days or else the world faces an “unprecedented” situation for which there is no plan.

The United Nations made the stark warning as it warned that the disease “is running faster than us and it is winning the race”.

Nearly 9,000 cases of ebola have been reported so far in West Africa, including 4,447 deaths.

“The WHO advises within 60 days we must ensure 70% of infected people are in a care facility and 70% of burials are done without causing further infection,” said Anthony Banbury, the UN’s deputy ebola coordinator.

“We need to do that within 60 days from 1 October. If we reach these targets then we can turn this epidemic around.”

A video report from RT:

‘Key to containing Ebola is getting more intl help’ – WHO spokesperson

Program notes:

Ebola deaths are being recorded in more and more countries around the world – a United Nations worker has died in hospital in Germany – the latest victim of the virus outside Africa. At the heart of the pandemic – in West Africa – the outbreak has already killed more than 4,000 people. For more RT is joined by Winifred Romeril from the World Health Organization.

From Voice of America, a lament:

International Ebola Support is Lethargic, MSF Says

South Africans working for Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, are calling on their fellow citizens to support efforts to stem the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  More than 4,000 people have died and the number of new infections is doubling every three weeks. Yet there is a severe shortage of medical facilities, contact tracing, surveillance and education on Ebola in affected communities.

The message from MSF is a simple one: the international community is failing the people of West Africa.

MSF says that despite promises from various countries to help stem the deadly virus, to date, few pledges have translated into concrete action on the ground.   Sharon Ekambaram, head of a MSF South Africa unit, says there are critical gaps in all aspects of the response.

“And so the spread of Ebola continues unabated as the response fails to curtail and bring down new infections,” she explained. “MSF is really angry that the world and the international community is failing the people of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. It is hard to understand, to be frank, the media frenzy about individual contaminations of people in the USA and in Europe… rich nations have the resources to contain spread of Ebola if it reaches their shores. It is the people of the impoverished communities of West Africa that are at the highest risk of infection and death.”

While Nikkei Asian Review examines another impact:

Ebola casting shadow on global economy

Rising concern over a possible global outbreak of Ebola, especially in the wake of the new cases in Spain and the U.S., is putting investors on edge and has begun affecting the global economy.

The disease will likely prove a long-term drag on the African economy. Ebola’s two-year financial impact could reach $32.6 billion by the end of 2015 in West Africa alone, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Thursday.

Expectations that global travel will slow sent airline stocks down in the U.S. market Monday. The government has begun screening travelers from West Africa at major airports.

From the New York Times, reassurance:

Scientists Rein In Fears of Ebola, a Virus Whose Mysteries Tend to Invite Speculation

News that a nurse in full protective gear had become infected with the Ebola virus raised some disturbing questions on Monday. Has the virus evolved into some kind of super-pathogen? Might it mutate into something even more terrifying in the months to come?

Evolutionary biologists who study viruses generally agree on the answers to those two questions: no, and probably not.

The Ebola viruses buffeting West Africa today are not fundamentally different from those in previous outbreaks, they say. And it is highly unlikely that natural selection will give the viruses the ability to spread more easily, particularly by becoming airborne.

“I’ve been dismayed by some of the nonsense speculation out there,” said Edward Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. “I understand why people get nervous about this, but as scientists we need to be very careful we don’t scaremonger.”

From the Washington Post, angst:

Ebola poll: Two-thirds of Americans worried about possible widespread epidemic in U.S.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about a widespread Ebola epidemic in the United States, despite repeated assurances from public officials that the country’s modern health-care and disease-surveillance systems will prevent the type of outbreak ravaging West Africa.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in recent days, the number of Americans who say the government should be doing more to prevent additional Ebola cases in the United States is almost twice the number who believe the United States is doing all it can to control the spread of the virus.

That includes overwhelming support — 91 percent — in favor of stricter screening for people traveling to this country from West Africa. Such screening began this past weekend at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and soon will begin at four other international airports in the country.

And the New York Times covers the political front:

Debate Over Ebola Turns to Specific Policy Requests

The public health concerns about Ebola have now spread to both political parties, which are engaged in a finger-pointing policy debate that could jar midterm elections just weeks away.

For a week, Republicans have advocated severely limiting — if not eliminating — flights from West Africa, accusing President Obama of complicity in a looming epidemic for failing to take their advice. On Monday, Democrats joined the debate, blaming Republican budget cutting for the government’s failure to prepare for Ebola.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled an Internet banner advertisement charging Republicans with undermining the Ebola response by cutting funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while protecting tax breaks for special interests. A little-known liberal group, the Agenda Project Action Fund, showed a 60-second advertisement that it says will run in Kentucky next week. It includes gruesome images of dead and dying West Africans. “Republican cuts kill,” the ad says as it ends, accompanied by the sound of breathing through a respirator. “Vote.”

More from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Pols trade blame for Ebola, but both parties cut budgets for health

The political blame game over the deadly Ebola virus is in full swing just weeks before the November elections – with each side ignoring the facts.

Several Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, contend that President Barack Obama has been too slow or hasn’t done enough in response to the outbreak. Some Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, want to restrict air travel from West Africa, the outbreak’s epicenter, or bolster the U.S. borders.

Democrats are pointing fingers, too, blaming congressional Republican budget-cutting zeal for crippling the response of federal health institutions to the crisis. On Monday, a liberal group and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee linked Republican fiscal policies to the Ebola outbreak.

Still more from the National Journal:

Lawmakers Want Answers on U.S. Ebola Cases

  • Hearing Thursday will examine whether the country is prepared to cope with the virus.

Amid rising anxiety over the Ebola outbreak, a congressional panel is to convene Thursday in Washington to hear details of the two confirmed cases in Dallas and whether America’s ports of entry, hospitals, and health care workers are adequately prepared to prevent a further spread of the virus.

The lawmakers’ inquiry will include the question of why screening procedures did not prevent Thomas Duncan from entering the U.S. from Liberia on Sept. 20, the handling of his diagnosis, and his treatment prior to his death last week, according to a memo released Tuesday by majority staffers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The committee will also be updated by officials scrambling to determine how a nurse who helped treat Duncan at a Texas hospital has become the first person to contract Ebola in the U.S.

Reuters covers the White House response:

White House to seek more Ebola funds in FY2015 spending bill

The Obama administration expects to ask Congress for additional funds for a growing U.S. government effort to halt the spread of Ebola, White House Budget Director Shaun Donovan said on Tuesday.

Donovan told Reuters that the request, which would come on top of more than $1 billion in federal funds currently available, would be made in the coming weeks as Congress reconvenes in November to consider a 2015 fiscal year spending bill in the post-election “lame duck” session.

“Our expectation is that we will be talking to Congress about additional needs,” Donovan said at the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit in Washington.

On to the first home-grown American case with the Guardian:

Dallas nurse infected with Ebola gets blood transfusion from survivor

  • Dr Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the US from Liberia to be treated for Ebola, donated plasma to Nina Pham

A Dallas nurse who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian patient who died of the disease has received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus.

Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people nearly all of them in West Africa in an outbreak the World Health Organisation has called “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.” US health officials say they are ramping up training for medical workers who deal with the infected.

Nurse Nina Pham was among about 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, according to medical records. They drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhoea. They analysed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.

More from the Washington Post:

The decades-old treatment that may save a young Dallas nurse infected with Ebola

In late July, when it looked like Dr. Kent Brantly wasn’t going to make it, a small news item escaped Liberia. It spoke of Brantly’s treatment – not of the Ebola vaccine, Zmapp, which Brantly later got. But of a blood transfusion. He had “received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care,” the missive said.

Now months later, Brantly, who has since recovered from his battle with the virus, has passed on the favor. A 26-year-old Dallas nurse named Nina Pham, who contracted the illness while treating the United States’ first Ebola patient, has received Brantly’s blood. It’s not the first time it has been used to treat Ebola patients. Recovered Ebola victim Richard Sacra got it, as well as U.S. journalist Ashoka Mukpo, who last night said he’s on the mend.

Injecting the blood of a patient such as Brantly, who has recovered from Ebola and developed certain antibodies, is a decades-old but promising method of treatment that, academics and health officials agree, could be one of the best means to fight Ebola. Called a convalescent serum, it might also save Pham, an alum of Texas Christian University.

And the Daily Mail offers the usual omnium gatherum:

Ebola-stricken nurse breaks her silence from quarantine unit to say she is ‘being cared for by the best team in the world’ at Dallas hospital

  • Nina Pham, 26, said on Tuesday: ‘I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world’
  • The nurse has received blood transfusion from Dr Kent Brantly, who was given the all-clear from Ebola
  • Antibodies in his blood could help the patients fight the disease
  • Miss Pham, from Fort Worth, caught the Ebola virus while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, in Dallas
  • Second person who some identified as Miss Pham’s boyfriend is being monitored for symptoms
  • Miss Pham raised in Vietnamese family in Fort Worth and graduated from Texas Christian University in 2010 with Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • About 70 staff members at Texas hospital were involved in the care of first Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized

Support, via Reuters:

U.S. health workers rally on Facebook for Dallas nurse with Ebola

Thousands of U.S. health workers have joined social media campaigns in the past few days to support a Texas nurse who became the first person infected with Ebola in the United States, which she contracted caring for a dying African patient at a Dallas hospital.

The nurse, Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed over the weekend and is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she worked. She has been swept in questions on whether a lapse in infectious disease protocols was behind her becoming infected.

“She isn’t sick because she is a bad nurse, didn’t follow protocol, or was inadequately trained. She is the RN (registered nurse) who made a sacrifice to care for a very sick man,” Roy Rannila, a staff member for the Texas hospital group caring for Pham wrote on his Facebook page.

A Facebook page, “Nurses for Nina”, has garnered over 4,500 “likes” in less than 24 hours and messages of support from healthcare providers in areas such as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Tennessee and Washington D.C.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, playing catch-up:

Dallas health officials scramble to identify staff who treated Ebola patient

Health officials on Monday were scrambling to identify and monitor a large number of health care workers at a Dallas hospital who could be at risk of contracting Ebola after they cared for Thomas Eric Duncan in the hospital’s isolation ward.

It’s unclear how many caregivers could be at risk; some reports indicated as many as 70 were involved in Duncan’s treatment. Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he wouldn’t be surprised if more workers develop the disease in the coming weeks.

A 26-year-old nurse at the hospital, who was identified Monday by her family as Nina Pham, tested positive for the virus Saturday even though she had worn protective clothing in her multiple contacts with Duncan.

More from the the Washington Post:

CDC doesn’t know how many health-care workers in Dallas may have been exposed to Ebola; AP says it’s ‘about 70’ people

A day after a nurse who treated an Ebola-stricken patient in Dallas was diagnosed with the virus, public health officials are still trying to figure out how many health-care workers may have had similar exposure.

It is still unclear how, exactly, the nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas became the first person to contract the virus in the United States, said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But if one health-care worker was infected, “it is possible other people could have been infected as well,” Frieden said during a briefing with reporters on Monday.

The Associated Press covers a confession:

CDC acknowledges it could have done more on Ebola

he nation’s top disease-fighting agency acknowledged Tuesday that federal health experts failed to do all they should have done to prevent Ebola from spreading from a Liberian man who died last week in Texas to the nurse who treated him.

The stark admission from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came as the World Health Organization projected the pace of infections accelerating in West Africa — to as many as 10,000 new cases a week within two months.

Agency Director Tom Frieden outlined a series of steps designed to stop the spread of the disease in the U.S., including increased training for health care workers and changes at the Texas hospital where the virus was diagnosed to minimize the risk of more infections.

While the Los Angeles Times covers serious allegations:

Dallas nurses describe Ebola hospital care: ‘There was no protocol’

A Liberian man who arrived by ambulance at a Dallas hospital with symptoms of Ebola sat for “several hours” in a room with other patients before being put in isolation, and the nurses who treated him wore flimsy gowns and had little protective gear, nurses alleged Tuesday as they fought back against suggestions that one of their own had erred in handling him.

The statements came as Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, fought off the Ebola virus after contracting it from the Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan. The statements by the Dallas hospital nurses were read by representatives of the Oakland-based group National Nurses United.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, said the nonunionized Texas nurses could not identify themselves, speak to the media independently or even read their statements over the phone because they feared losing their jobs. In a conference call, questions from the media were relayed to the unknown number of nurses by National Nurses United representatives, and the responses were read back to reporters.

While here in the San Francisco Bay area, hospitals are getting ready, reports the Contra Costa Times:

East Bay hospitals brace against Ebola

East Bay hospitals are prepared to screen, diagnose, isolate, and if necessary, treat and stop the threat of Ebola, according to U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell.

“They are ready,” he said. “They know what to look for … and I’m confident that if someone does present Ebola-like symptoms, they will be immediately isolated and treated so we can stop the spread.”

Swalwell, D-Dublin, held a conference call Tuesday with about 20 East Bay health care leaders at San Ramon Regional Medical Center, allowing them the opportunity to query Dr. John Brooks, the medical task force lead for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Ebola Response, on the latest on the outbreak and how to protect against it.

“Hospitals are understandably concerned,” Swalwell said, adding that the spread of the virus has become a humanitarian crisis in West Africa where 4,000 people have died of Ebola and there are 8,000 cases. “I can’t think of a recent illness in the United States that is so deadly that could be spread by direct bodily fluid and have such a high fatality rate in such a short amount of time.”

And from United Press International, an apology from a talking head:

NBC’s Nancy Snyderman apologizes for violating Ebola quarantine

Nancy Snyderman issued an apology after she was caught leaving her house, despite being under quarantine after a member of her crew contracted Ebola in West Africa

A group of NBC journalists, including NBC’s chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman, are now under mandatory quarantine after they were spotted out in public last week, violating a voluntary quarantine after one of their crew contracted Ebola on a trip to Africa.

Dr. Snyderman issued an apology Monday, acknowledging that they had indeed left confinement against advice, but assured the public that they were not showing signs of the disease.

“While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed,” Snyderman said in a statement.

While Vocativ covers an act that mandates an apology:

College Allegedly Rejects Nigerian Student Because of Ebola Fears

  • The Texas school might have turned down the young man, even though he lives in a country that has been Ebola-free for more than a month

The latest outbreak of Ebola hysteria in the U.S. comes from a community college in central Texas called Navarro College. The school recently turned down an application from a student in Nigeria, writing that it’s not accepting international students “from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.” Idris Ayodeji Bello, a Nigerian who currently lives in east Texas, learned about the rejection letter from a friend in Nigeria, Dr. Kamorudeen Abidogun, who also happens to be the student’s brother-in-law. Bello posted the document on his website and to Twitter, and it looks to be signed by Navarro College Director of International Programs Elizabeth A. Pillans.

Abidogun tells Vocativ that the rejected Nigerian student hopes to major in computer science, and he “was motivated by the high standard of U.S. colleges and universities” to apply to Navarro College. The young man has written an email to Navarro expressing his disappointment with the rejection letter, Abidogun says, but he hasn’t yet received a response. It doesn’t make much sense for an American college to reject Nigerian students because of Ebola fears. Though Nigeria has had 20 confirmed Ebola cases, the country’s efforts to quash the disease have been largely successful—and could serve as a model for other West African nations.

The New York Times covers a death in Germany:

Ebola Patient Dies in German Hospital

A 56-year-old man who had been working with the United Nations in Liberia died overnight at the hospital in Leipzig where he was being treated for Ebola, the hospital said Tuesday in a statement quoted by the German news media.

The brief statement gave no further details. The man was the third patient to arrive in Germany in recent weeks for treatment of Ebola, and the first to die.

The first patient, a Senegalese man who worked for the World Health Organization, was treated in Hamburg from late August until Oct. 3, when he was released. He has since returned home. The second patient, a Ugandan doctor who was working in West Africa for an Italian aid organization, continues to receive treatment at a hospital in Frankfurt.

A video report from Deutsche Welle:

Ebola patient dies in Germany

Program notes:

A Sudanese UN medical worker has succumbed to Ebola in a Leipzig clinic after receiving intensive medical care.

On to Spain with El País:

Number of patients being monitored for Ebola symptoms rises to 100

  • As well as 15 high-risk contacts, a further 83 are under “active vigilance”

The number of people currently under observation after having come into contact with Spanish Ebola patient Teresa Romero has risen to 100. All of these people interacted with the nursing assistant during the six days that she was presenting symptoms of the virus, which is when contagion can occur.

As well as the 15 people currently admitted to the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, considered “high-risk contacts,” there are a further 83 that are being monitored, EL PAÍS has determined. The last official figure supplied was 52.

These 83 people are in their homes for now, and are subject to what the experts call “active vigilance” – i.e., they are being called by Madrid regional public health personnel twice a day to ensure that they are taking their temperature and to find out the results. This kind of passive observation is the same process used with people at risk, as was the case of Romero, who became infected with Ebola while treating two Spanish missionaries with the virus who had been repatriated from West Africa.

And an apology, also from El País:

Madrid health chief apologizes to nursing assistant with Ebola

  • Javier Rodríguez admits comments were “unfortunate,” but stops short of resigning

Madrid’s regional health chief has issued a public apology to Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who contracted Ebola after treating two infected Spanish missionaries, after accusing her of concealing information from medics and of being clumsy with her protective suit.

In a letter to Romero’s husband, who had called for his resignation, Javier Rodríguez admits that his public statements last Thursday were “unfortunate” and that he never meant to offend the patient, who remains in a serious but stable condition in Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital.

“I know these are very tough moments for you and your family, and I understand that my words may have caused even more pain,” writes Rodríguez in a letter that was published by news agency EFE. “I in no way meant to add to the pain that you are going through.”

An Ebola scare in Canada from CBC News:

Ebola test result awaited by member of Canadian Forces aid mission

  • ‘Extremely unlikely’ aircrew member will test positive for Ebola, doctor says

A man quarantined in a Belleville, Ont., hospital while awaiting Ebola test results is a member of the Canadian Forces aircrew who dropped off supplies to combat the disease in Sierra Leone, CBC News has learned.

The patient is currently in isolation and samples have been sent to the National Microbiology lab in Winnipeg. Results should be ready late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning.

The patient arrived at the Belleville General Hospital emergency room early Monday. He had recently returned from West Africa and showed some symptoms common with the Ebola virus.

From the London Telegraph, the military angle:

More troops tackling Ebola than battling Isil or the Taliban

  • The military campaign to help defeat Ebola becomes the Armed Forces’ biggest overseas deployment

Britain will soon have more troops tackling Ebola than battling Isil or the Taliban, as the military campaign to help defeat the deadly disease outbreak becomes the Armed Forces’ biggest overseas deployment.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said the UK had to act to help stop the spread of the disease, or it would tear through West Africa, then into Europe and the UK.

By the end of November around 750 British troops will be in Sierra Leone helping to set up medical centres and train staff to tackle the outbreak which has killed more than 4,000.

He said by then it would be the UK’s “biggest deployment overseas” as it pulls back from its 13-year war in Afghanistan.

After the jump, preparations in Japan, capitalizing on crisis, vaccines promised and researched, a hefty Zuckberg donation, an atomic helping hand, a UN official’s prescription, a British hospital ship heading to Sierra Leone, an expanding Ebola text-message system, Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal over, on to Sierra Leone and scare resources, then on to Liberia and one county’s tripling of cases, division over a desperate measure in desperate times, a ministerial quarantine, the perils of care, a hospital reopens, a warning over burials, high-level visits to Monrovia, Cote d’Ivoire quarantines arrivals from Liberia, and to close on a note of absurdity, two stories about shouting Ebola on crowd bus. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Brutal costs of Greek austerity


From the just-released Statistics on Income and Living Conditions 2013 [PDF] from the Hellenic Statistical Authority [Elstat], dramatic evidence of the cost of Troika-imposed austerity on the Greek people:

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EbolaWatch: Crisis, Pols, Scares, & Africa


And please do read the African coverage after the jump, featuring stories from newspapers in the Hot Zone. . .

First up, from BuzzFeed, alarms shrieking:

WHO Says Ebola Is The Worst Modern Health Emergency

The World Health Organization calls Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times” and says “the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained, and threatening public health emergency.”

In a statement emailed to reporters on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” saying that most countries where Ebola has spread have failed “to put basic public health infrastructures in place.”

Encouraging people and health officials to get informed about how to prevent Ebola, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan explained that 90% of economic losses during the outbreak of any disease comes from “the uncoordinated and irrational efforts of the public to avoid infection.”

“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said.

More from the New York Times:

W.H.O. Chief Calls Ebola Outbreak a ‘Crisis for International Peace’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said Monday.

Dr. Chan, who dealt with the 2009 avian flu pandemic and the SARS outbreaks of 2002-3, said the Ebola outbreak had progressed from a public health crisis to “a crisis for international peace and security.”

“I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries,” she said in a statement delivered on her behalf to a conference in Manila and released by her office in Geneva. “I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.”

More from BBC News:

Ebola epidemic ‘could lead to failed states’, warns WHO

The Ebola epidemic threatens the “very survival” of societies and could lead to failed states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The outbreak, which has killed some 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a “crisis for international peace and security”, WHO head Margaret Chan said.

She also warned of the cost of panic “spreading faster than the virus”.

The Nation goes for context:

How the World Let the Ebola Epidemic Spiral Out of Control

  • A swift international response could have contained the outbreak

Despite its frightening virulence, Ebola can be contained through robust public health efforts. It thrives in chaotic and impoverished environments where public health systems are frayed and international assistance weak. Though experts will debate the roots of this current crisis for years, one point on which many agree is that local poverty and global indifference played starring roles. “This isn’t a natural disaster,” international health crusader Paul Farmer told The Washington Post. “This is the terrorism of poverty.”

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are among the poorest countries on the planet, with health systems that have been shattered by years of neglect and conflict. As many as 90 percent of Liberia’s healthcare workers fled the country during its long civil war, and some 80 percent of its health facilities were closed. By the time the Ebola outbreak was declared an international emergency, Liberia had less than 250 doctors. Scientists could not have devised a more nurturing environment for a deadly virus if they had designed it in a laboratory.

But if local conditions created the opening for the epidemic, it was global inaction that helped it to flourish. For months, organizations like Doctors Without Borders begged the World Health Organization to begin marshaling resources to fight the crisis. But after years of budget cuts and the gutting of its epidemic-response unit, WHO failed to act with anything approaching the necessary speed and competence. Nor was it alone: governments around the world have stalled, unwilling to recognize this outbreak as the global humanitarian crisis it is. Even now, far too few have stepped up to provide the medical resources and technical expertise that are so desperately needed.

And the perspective on the handling of the outbreak from a German specialist on tropical diseases from Deutsche Welle:

The Global Fight against Ebola

Program notes:

Dr. Peter Tinnemann, head of the global health sciences unit at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, offers insights into the global fight against Ebola and explains what the World Health Summit can do to help solve global health problems.

The New York Times raises questions:

New Questions of Risk and Vigilance After Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola

Dr. Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Brownsville, said he was shocked that none of those monitored by officials were hospital workers caring for Mr. Duncan after he was put in isolation. Dr. McCormick worked for the C.D.C. in 1976, when he helped investigate the first epidemic of Ebola in central Africa.

“You know that once this guy is really ill and he’s hospitalized, there’s going to be a lot of contact, manipulation of blood specimens, cleaning up if he’s vomiting or if he’s got diarrhea,” Dr. McCormick said. “You certainly can’t assume that because he’s hospitalized and in this unit that everything is fine and everything that goes on will be without any risk. I mean that’s just ludicrous to think that.”

State and federal health officials seemed to be, in a sense, starting over, two weeks after Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. They spoke of stepping up precautions and of conducting a new investigation, in order to evaluate and learn more about a group of health-care workers they had initially failed to regard as potentially at risk.

“So in light of this case, we’re looking at the ongoing monitoring of all health care workers and looking at going forward having an epidemiologist see them and more active surveillance for these individuals,” Dr. David L. Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told reporters Sunday.

The Washington Post assesses:

U.S. hospitals not prepared for Ebola threat

With reports that a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas has been infected, one thing urgently needs to be made clear: Our hospitals are not prepared to confront the deadly virus.

It is long past time to stop relying on a business-as-usual approach to a virus that has killed thousands in West Africa and has such a frighteningly high mortality rate. There is no margin for error. That means there can be no standard short of optimal in the protective equipment, such as hazmat suits, given to nurses and other personnel who are the first to engage patients with Ebola-like symptoms. All nurses must have access to the same state-of-the-art equipment used by Emory University Hospital personnel when they transported Ebola patients from Africa, but too many hospitals are trying to get by on the cheap.

In addition, hospitals and other front-line providers should immediately conduct hands-on training and drills so that personnel can practice, in teams, such vital safety procedures as the proper way to put on and remove protective equipment. Hospitals must also maintain properly equipped isolation rooms to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff and harden their procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens.

The Associated Press sets the healthcare frame:

CDC urges all US hospitals to ‘think Ebola’

The government is telling the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola.”

Every hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

He said the CDC is working to improve protections for hospital workers after a nurse caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas became the first person to become infected with the disease inside the U.S.

“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,” Frieden said, “because even a single infection is unacceptable.”

Fears from the Los Angeles Times:

Louisiana A.G. opposes burial of burned items linked to Ebola victim

Burned items associated with a Liberian man who died from Ebola in a Dallas hospital last week could be barred from a Louisiana landfill if the state’s attorney general gets his way.

Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell said he plans to ask for a temporary restraining order to keep the incinerated items out of Louisiana. The request could be filed as early as Monday, said a spokesman for Caldwell.

In a statement late Sunday, Caldwell cited reports that “six truckloads” of items from the Texas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying are set to be dumped at a Louisiana landfill after being burned at a Veolia Environmental Services plant in Port Arthur, Texas. Duncan fell ill with Ebola in Texas and died Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that incinerated Ebola-associated waste is no longer infectious.

More of the same from the Associated Press:

Company won’t take ash from Ebola victim apartment

A Louisiana waste disposal facility says it will not accept the ashes generated when a Texas Ebola victim’s belongings were incinerated, at least not until state officials agree that it would pose no threat to the public.

Chemical Waste Management Inc.-Lake Charles said in news release Monday that it is permitted to accept such material and that it poses no threat to the environment or human health.

But, the company says, “we do not want to make an already complicated situation, more complicated.”

The Hill covers troops dispatched:

‘Surge’ of Ebola personnel sent to Dallas

A “surge” of personnel and other resources has been sent to Dallas to help discover how a nurse was infected with Ebola, top health officials told President Obama during an Oval Office meeting on Monday.

The president stressed that the investigation into the second U.S. infection “should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and healthcare workers nationwide.” He said officials should move “as expeditiously as possible,” according to the White House.

Obama was briefed on the Ebola case by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, participated via telephone.

From The Hill, but of course:

GOP amplifies calls for Ebola czar

At least six lawmakers, including one Democrat, are now calling for a single Ebola authority to oversee the government’s efforts at home and abroad. The U.S. plan to combat Ebola costs at least $1 billion and crosses multiple layers of government, from the Department of Defense to airport security staff to local health departments.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who has worked closely with federal officials on the city’s Ebola cases, told reporters last week that the response had been “at best, disorganized.”

The White House maintains that it has a clear chain of command about how to confront Ebola, and it starts with Obama’s top homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. But Republicans believe the lack of a prominent point person who can focus solely on Ebola has slowed the nation’s response to the epidemic.

Salon lays some blame:

The right’s scary Ebola lesson: How anti-government mania is harming America

  • It’s time to admit the truth: People who cut health funding and don’t like government have not helped this crisis

If not for serial budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health, we would probably have an Ebola vaccine and we would certainly have better treatment, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins tells the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein. This comes on the heels of reporting that the Centers for Disease Control’s prevention budget has been cut by half since 2006, and new revelations about how botched protocols at the Dallas hospital that turned away Thomas Eric Duncan and then failed to treat him effectively also led to the infection of one of Duncan’s caregivers.

Yet most of the media coverage of the politics of Ebola to date has centered on whether President Obama has adequately and/or honestly dealt with the disease. “I remain concerned that we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters. Cruz is probably the wrong guy to talk about seriousness: his government shutdown forced the NIH to delay clinical trials and made the CDC cut back on disease outbreak detection programs this time last year.

I find myself wondering: When, if ever, will the political debate over Ebola center on the way the right-wing libertarian approach to government has made us less safe?

A Dallas patient update from Sky News:

Ebola Infected Dallas Nurse Nina Pham ‘Stable’

  • Barack Obama urges health officials to quickly investigate how Dallas nurse Nina Pham became infected despite precautions

An American nurse who contracted ebola while treating a dying patient is in “clinically stable” condition, US health officials have said.

The healthcare worker, identified as 26-year-old Nina Pham, has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Friday.

Ms Pham was one of several caregivers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who succumbed to ebola on 8 October.

The White House said that the president wants an update on steps under way to ensure the national health system is prepared to deal with the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.

A video report from Reuters:

CDC: Infected nurse “clinically stable,” others possibly at risk

Program note:

Dr. Thomas Frieden says CDC doesn’t know how nurse became infected with Ebola, and says staff are assessing care protocols, and materials used for protective suits and equipment.

Reconsideration from the New York Times:

C.D.C. Reviewing Procedures After New Case of Ebola in Dallas

Health authorities have expanded the number of health care workers who were part of a group that may have had contact with Mr. Duncan to at least 50 people, which doubles the number of those being monitored to more than 100.

The action comes as questions were being raised about why the hospital workers who had been caring for Mr. Duncan from Sept. 28 until his death last Wednesday had not been on the initial list.

Officials had previously never made it clear that the 48 people being evaluated did not include those treating him after his admission to the hospital.

On Monday, health authorities said they were conducting interviews with employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to try to determine who might have come into contact with Mr. Duncan and were monitoring their health to ensure that they had not contracted the virus.

Unlike Spain, where the dog of a nurse who contracted from a patient was put down, via Reuters:

Dog of Ebola-infected Dallas nurse to be cared for, officials say

The dog of the Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola when treating a patient infected with the virus is still in the woman’s apartment and will be kept safe while its owner is in isolation at a local hospital, officials said on Monday.

The 1-year-old King Charles Spaniel will be moved to an undisclosed location where its health can be checked, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ office said in a statement.

“We are working to remove the dog from the apartment this afternoon,” the office said. Jenkins, the chief executive for Dallas County, is working to share photos of the patient’s dog with her family, it added.

American network talking head goes AWOL, gets whole crew confined, via News Corp Australia:

NBC News crew under quarantine after correspondent Dr Nancy Snyderman snuck out for soup

AN NBC News crew was ordered under mandatory quarantine for possible Ebola infection after the network’s chief medical correspondent was allegedly spotted on a food run to a New Jersey restaurant, according to a report.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her crew had agreed to a voluntary quarantine when they returned to the United States from West Africa last week following their exposure to a cameraman who contracted the deadly virus, The New York Post reports.

But Snyderman, who lives in Princeton, New Jersey, was spotted outside the Peasant Grill in nearby Hopewell on Thursday afternoon, according to Planet Princeton.

A screening update from The Hill:

CDC: 91 passengers at JFK airport flagged for Ebola screenings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Monday that 91 passengers had been flagged for additional Ebola screening at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“Ninety-one such individuals were identified, none of them had fever,” Frieden said during a press briefing. “Five of them were referred for additional evaluation for CDC. None were deemed to have exposure to Ebola.”

Kennedy airport is one of five in the U.S. where passengers arriving from West African countries battling the deadly disease receive extra checks for symptoms. The Obama administration has also implemented the additional screenings at Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, O’Hare in Chicago and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

From RT, vaccine hopes:

70-90% efficiency: Russia to send Ebola vaccine to W. Africa in 2 months

In two months, Russia is planning to send a new experimental vaccine against Ebola to Africa, according to the country’s health minister. The efficiency of the drug, which is to be tested on the ground, is about 70-90 percent.

“Today we are discussing that we will have enough of Triazoverin vaccine in two months so that we can send them to our personnel in Guinea and test its efficiency in clinical conditions,” Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said.

The vaccine has so far proved efficient against various hemorrhagic fevers, including the Marburg virus which is very similar to Ebola. “The efficiency ranges between 70 and 90 percent and this is a very good indicator,” Skvortsova said.

Russia’ Virology Institute is preparing a whole group of drugs.”They are basically genetically engineered drugs which can work both for disease treatment and prevention,” Skvortsova said.

Another vaccine, via the Guardian:

Canadian-made Ebola vaccine begins human trials in US

  • Experimental vaccine has shown to be ‘100% effective’ in preventing spread of Ebola when tested on animals

An experimental Canadian-made Ebola vaccine that has shown promise in tests on primates is beginning clinical trials on humans in the US.

The vaccine will be tested on healthy individuals Monday to see how well it works, whether there are side effects and what the proper dosage is, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said.

“The Canadian vaccine provides great hope and promise because it has shown to be 100% effective in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tested on animals,” she said.

From the Guardian again, a defense:

Spain defends Ebola repatriations

  • We did what we had to do, says foreign minister, despite nurse becoming first person to contract virus outside of west Africa

Spain’s foreign affairs minister has defended the government’s decision to repatriate two Spanish nationals with Ebola, despite a nurse who treated them becoming the first person to contract the virus outside of west Africa.

“The government did what it had to do,” José Manuel García-Margallo told El País newspaper. “The duty of a state is to protect its citizens – and even more so when they are in difficult circumstances far from Spain. All the developed countries who have had this problem have done the same.”

The two missionaries, Miguel Pajares, 75, and Manuel García Viejo, 69, died in August and September, days after being evacuated to Madrid for treatment. Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos tested positive for the Ebola virus shortly after. She remains in a stable but serious condition.

An Aussie nurse returns to Africa after a false alarm, via the Guardian:

Cairns nurse in Ebola scare urges volunteers to fight virus in West Africa

  • Sue Ellen Kovack says medical professionals thinking of travelling to West Africa to help in public health crisis should not be deterred

The nurse at the centre of the Australian Ebola scare has urged other health professionals to travel to West Africa to help fight the virus.

Sue Ellen Kovack, 57, was released from Cairns hospital on Monday after returning a second negative result for the virus. Kovack returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone last Tuesday and was taken to hospital on Thursday after developing a low-grade fever, sparking fears she could have brought the virus to Australia.

In her first public statement since being admitted to hospital Kovack urged Australians to donate to the Red Cross to send more help to West Africa.

“It has been so inspiring and it has really kept me going in the past few days to know there’s growing public support for action to help people affected by Ebola in West Africa,” she said.

The British numbers, via the Independent:

Jeremy Hunt: UK Ebola victims won’t exceed ‘a handful’

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended Britain’s response to the Ebola crisis which was described by the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the biggest danger posed by a disease in modern times.

Unveiling new measures designed to halt the spread of the deadly virus from arriving in the UK and to identify those in the early stages of infection, Mr Hunt told MPs that he did not expect the number of victims to exceed a “handful of cases” – fewer than 10.

He was challenged by Labour to describe the “worst-case scenario” and sought to reassure the public that the risk posed by the disease was low. However he said it was possible that the number of infections could rise and the situation was likely to get worse before it improves.

Screens up, via BBC News:

Heathrow Ebola screening from Tuesday

Ebola screening will begin at London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says.

Passengers from at-risk countries will have their temperature taken, complete a risk questionnaire and have contact details recorded.

Mr Hunt said screening at Gatwick and Eurostar terminals would start in the coming week.

The Chief Medical Officer says the risk to the UK is low, but expects a “handful” of cases.

Aerial Ebolaphobia, via the Guardian:

Ebola: UK cancels resumption of direct flights to Sierra Leone

  • Department of Transport cites deteriorating public health for revoking Gambia Bird’s licence to fly to Ebola-hit country

The first direct flights to resume from the UK to Sierra Leone have been cancelled after the British government revoked Gambia Bird’s recently granted permit because of fears over Ebola.

The Department of Transport cited the deteriorating public health situation for the revocation when it notified the German-owned airline on Friday evening.

The airline said it would appeal against the decision, especially as its licence was only granted on 26 September.

Spanish reassurance from El País:

Ebola outbreak is under control, says government spokesman

  • Scientific committee confirms that only nursing assistant can now transmit virus in Spain

“The patient is still in a very serious condition.” That was the latest news from the authorities on the health of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who was diagnosed with Ebola last week and has been receiving treatment in Carlos III Hospital in Madrid ever since.

The person delivering the message was Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, a member of the scientific committee put in place by the government late last week, during a press conference at midday on Monday at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace.

Rodríguez went on to confirm that none of the people with whom Romero had come into contact, and who have been voluntarily put into isolation at Carlos III for monitoring, are showing any symptoms of the virus.

“Right now there is no other person in Spain who is capable of transmitting the virus other than the patient,” he said in reference to Romero, who contracted Ebola while caring for a Spanish missionary who had been repatriated from west Africa after becoming infected. “We are in a situation of total calm,” Rodríguez added.

TheLocal.es gives the date:

‘Spain Ebola-free in two weeks if no new cases’

Spain will be free from the threat of further contagion from Ebola on October 27th if all those who had close contact with an infected nurse remain without symptoms by then, a hospital director said on Monday.

Concerns that Ebola could spread in Spain have been high since the nurse, Teresa Romero, on October 6th became the first person diagnosed as having caught the deadly haemorrhagic fever outside of Africa.

A Czech Ebola alarm from RT:

Suspected Ebola carrier wrapped in plastic after Czech police seal off rail station

Czech police and hazmat suit-wearing doctors have seized a traveler from Ghana at Prague’s main railway station. The man, suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus, was wrapped in black plastic by the authorities and taken away.

The police dispatched some 15 officers from the capital’s rapid response squad to cordon off the station’s lobby, iDNES.cz news website reported. The operation didn’t interrupt the normal operation of the railway station, but probably scared passengers who were in the vicinity.

Footage from the scene showed a man wearing biohazard suit pushing a luggage cart with a person sitting on it almost completely covered by black plastic.

The target of the police operation was a student from Ghana, who arrived in Prague earlier Saturday evening. He managed to get through medical screening at the airport and was caught later at the railway station.

Here’s the raw footage, via Media News:

After the jump, on to Africa with a bankster’s alarm and a regional economic alert, on to Sierra Leone and football affected, Liberia next, with journalistic accusations, a strike averted — or was it?, an account from one facility, a protest over dismissals, clinic expansions, a new outbreak reported, an innovative clinic covered, justices pledge salaries to the Ebola fight, And a warning against healthcare worker abuse, then on to Nigeria and anti-Ebola measures in schools, and an Ebola drugs medical trial, plus high praise in Gambia. . . Continue reading