We begin with the latest potential case to cross the Atlantic, via the Los Angeles Times:
Nurse exposed to Ebola going to National Institutes of Health
A female nurse who was exposed to Ebola while in West Africa is expected to be admitted to the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, becoming the latest person to be admitted to a U.S. hospital after being exposed to the disease.
Officials with the NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., said the patient was doing volunteer work in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone. The patient, who will be admitted to the special clinical studies unit for observation, was not identified by name.
Since the current Ebola outbreak began a year ago in West Africa — where the World Health Organization estimates the virus has killed more than 6,000 people — 10 patients have been treated in the United States. Of those 10, eight have recovered and two have died.
The Associated Press offers a new prognosis:
UN says several months needed to control Ebola
The U.N. Ebola chief said Thursday it will take several more months before the outbreak in West Africa is under control, an assessment that makes clear the World Health Organization’s goal of isolating 100 percent of Ebola cases by Jan. 1 won’t be met.
Dr. David Nabarro said there has been “a massive shift” over the last four months in the way affected governments have taken the lead in responding to the epidemic, communities are taking action and the international community has pitched in.
But he said greater efforts are needed to combat Ebola in western Sierra Leone and northern Mali, to reduce the number of new cases in Liberia and to limit transmission to Mali.
WHO conceded that it didn’t meet an interim Dec. 1 target of isolating 70 percent of Ebola patients and safely burying 70 percent of victims in hardest-hit Sierra Leone. But it hasn’t made clear what that means for its Jan. 1 goal, which it set in September. It has acknowledged that its patchy data could compromise the goal, since the agency does not know how many Ebola patients there actually are and is unable to track all of their contacts.
And BuzzFeed News covers the latest disappointment:
Ebola Vaccine Tests Suspended At Geneva Hospital
The trial was put on hold after four patients complained about joint pain in their hands and feet.
Geneva University Hospital has halted clinical trials of the Ebola vaccine after several recipients complained of pain, hospital officials told Reuters.
The vaccine, developed by Merck and NewLink, was suspended “as a measure of precaution” in 59 patients after four of the volunteers complained of joint pain in their hands and feet.
“They are all fine and being monitored regularly by the medical team leading the study,” the hospital said in a statement.
The trials are set to resume on January 5 in up to 15 volunteers after tests are run to confirm the pain is “benign and temporary” the hospital said.
The latest donor, via the Associated Press:
Saudi pledges $35 million for fight against Ebola
The Islamic Development Bank says the Saudi king has pledged $35 million to help fight Ebola in hard-hit West African countries.
More than 6,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa over the last year, including more than 1,500 in Sierra Leone since June.
The bank says the grant will be used to provide West African schools, bus stations and railway and airport stations with thermal sensors and medical examination equipment designed to diagnose the virus and keep public spaces safer.
From Jiji Press, cooperation:
G-7, Partners Confirm Cooperation in Fight against Ebola
The Group of Seven major countries, Mexico and the European Union reiterated their support Thursday for countries affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“We express our strong determination to remain vigilant in our response and to support all necessary efforts to stop the virus from spreading further,” they said in a joint statement following the 15th ministerial meeting in Tokyo of the Global Health Security Initiative forum.
The statement underscored the importance of sharing information in efforts to develop drugs to combat the lethal disease. “We remain committed to the open and transparent sharing of the results of clinical trials to expedite any efforts to protect human lives,” it noted.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa examines:
ECA to launch report on the economic impact of Ebola Virus Disease
While the Ebola outbreaks in both Nigeria and Senegal officially ended in October 2014 and both countries declared free of Ebola, a new United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) report looks at the impact of the 13,241 cases identified and 4,950 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone so far.
The report raises the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and also points out the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected. Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with, according to the report.
Despite the alarm, Carlos Lopes calls for a careful and cautious approach to the response. The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa notes that while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa as a Continent is exaggerated.
According to the report, West Africa has been the fastest growing region in Africa in recent years. Based on 2013’s estimates, the three Ebola countries taken together only represent 2.42 percent of West Africa’s GDP and 0.68 percent of Africa’s GDP, so West Africa’s overall growth should remain robust.
And from Agence France-Presse, the art of Ebola:
Art exhibition about the Ebola outbreak opens in Conakry
Art exhibition on the theme of the Ebola outbreak goes on show in the Guinean capital.
On to Mali with a declaration of victory — for now — from Reuters:
Mali says has no remaining Ebola cases as last patient recovers
Mali has no remaining cases of the Ebola virus as the last patient in the country has recovered and left hospital, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.
Six people have died of Ebola in Mali, while two others have recovered. The country is the sixth West African state to be hit by the worst outbreak on record of the hemorrhagic fever.
Ebola first entered Mali through an infant girl who died of the disease in October after arriving from neighboring Guinea. Later that month, an imam who also arrived from Guinea with the disease died in Mali. He infected other people.
“The only remaining case in treatment has recovered and has been released today so there are no more people sick with Ebola in Mali,” said Ministry of Health spokesman Markatié Daou.
And on to Sierra Leone with BBC News and a gruesome discovery:
Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone bodies found piled up in Kono
Health officials in Sierra Leone have discovered scores of bodies in a remote diamond-mining area, raising fears that the scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported.
The World Health Organization said they uncovered a “grim scene” in the eastern district of Kono. A WHO response team had been sent to Kono to investigate a sharp rise in Ebola cases.
The WHO said in a statement on Wednesday that over 11 days in Kono, “two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up”.
More from Reuters:
Twenty-five people had died in a hastily cordoned off section of the local hospital in the five days before the team arrived. They found that villages scattered across eight of the area’s 15 chiefdoms had been hit by Ebola.
Officially the district of over 350,000 inhabitants had reported 119 cases up to Dec. 9.
“We are only seeing the ears of the hippo,” said Dr. Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control, expressing concern that the official figures underrepresented the size of the outbreak in Kono.
A barb aimed at Freetown, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:
Devil Hole chief chides gov’t for Ebola response
- Headman of the Devil Hole community has chided government for its failure to support them in the fight against the Ebola outbreak.
Adikali Mansaray said they only survive by the grace of God, and that ten residents had died of Ebola in the community in the past four months, noting that they have been using local methods to prevent new infections.
Mansaray further explained that a community taskforce has been set up to monitor movements within the community, especially at night, as people from Port Loko and Makeni sneak in to the area at night.
“It is disheartening that we are very close to the capital city despite little government intervention in our community towards the fight against Ebola. We give little support from our earnings to the taskforce group to patrol at night,” he said.
The Associated Press covers a plea from Freetown:
Sierra Leone president makes Ebola plea to chiefs
Sierra Leone’s president implored the country’s traditional leaders on Thursday to stop cultural practices that have been blamed for spreading Ebola, like burials that involve touching corpses.
Officials have said up to 70 percent of new infections in Sierra Leone are linked to unsafe burials. The bodies of people who have died from Ebola are highly contagious and must be handled carefully.
“We should stop all traditional practices for now so that we will live to continue to practice them later,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said in a speech to launch the “Ebola Resistant Behavior Change Initiative.”
For months, Koroma has been urging traditional leaders to use their clout to stop burial and other cultural practices that contribute to the spread of Ebola. But the outbreak has only intensified in Sierra Leone in recent weeks.
teleSUR English covers an unusual collaboration:
African, Cuban and US doctors fighting Ebola together in Sierra Leone
African, Cuban, and US doctors are fighting Ebola together at the Maforki Treatment Center in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, and they are building strong links and achieving important results.
After the jump, on to Liberia and a peer-to-peer accolade, a regional victory — at least for now, a new medical facility in Monrovia, communities confront the aftermath, when Ebola goes postal, and journalists take the pledge. . . Continue reading