We begin with fear in the extreme, via the Observer:
Top-secret military warning on Ebola biological weapon terror threat
- Porton Down memo marked ‘UK secret UK eyes only’ reveals scientists analysed use of virus by al-Qaida or Isis
Scientists at the top-secret military research unit at Porton Down, Wiltshire, have been assessing the potential use of Ebola as a bioterrorism weapon, according to confidential documents.
A three-page memo, marked ‘UK secret UK eyes only’, reveals that the unit, where chemical, radiological and biological threats are analysed, was tasked with evaluating whether terrorist organisations such as al-Qaida and Islamic State (Isis) could use the deadly virus to attack western targets.
The heavily redacted document, which has been released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that the unit was asked last October to provide “guidance on the feasibility and potential impact of a non-state actor exploiting the Ebola outbreak in west Africa for bioterrorism”.
From the Associated Press, another warning:
WHO: Sharp decline in Ebola cases has now leveled off
The official leading the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak says a steep decline in case numbers has leveled off over the past month and that the development is a cause for concern.
Dr. Bruce Aylward told reporters Friday “today is the first time we have the data to demonstrate this” flattening of the curve.
The U.N. has said 10 times fewer people are being diagnosed with Ebola each week than in September, but Aylward says the rate has hovered around 120 to 150 new cases a week for the past month.
More form the Thomson Reuters Foundation:
Ebola doctor fears deadly scenes may yet be repeated
Nathalie MacDermott hopes never again to see desperate patients, terrified as blood pours from their eyes and mouths, lashing out and frantic as they die surrounded by vomit and faeces.
To this young British doctor, Ebola is “a disease that strips people of any kind of dignity in death”. Yet she fears the scenes she witnessed as an aid worker in West Africa’s epidemic may be repeated as the deadly virus is beaten back, memories fade and conspiracy theories creep in.
“Case numbers are coming down and people have relaxed a lot. And while it’s nice to see people able to get on with life again, it is also a bit concerning — because in some people’s eyes, Ebola has gone,” MacDermott said in an interview.
In others’ eyes, it was never there at all.
From the Guardian, unfortunate:
UK Ebola nurse under investigation after claims of misconduct
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council looks into reported claims that Pauline Cafferkey’s symptoms were obscured after her return from west Africa
A British nurse who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after returning from Sierra Leone is being investigated over claims of misconduct, the body that oversees nursing within the UK has confirmed.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said that it had received information from Public Health England about the conduct of Pauline Cafferkey that it would look into, along with two other nurses.
Cafferkey was diagnosed with the virus in December after returning from west Africa, where she had been volunteering as a health worker. She was treated at the Unit for Infectious Diseases on the Gartnavel hospital campus, Glasgow, before being transferred to specialist facilities at the Royal Free hospital in London.
From the UN News Center, an approval:
UN health agency approves rapid test for Ebola as decline in cases appears to level off
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it has approved for use a rapid diagnostic test kit for Ebola that can provide results in 15 minutes and correctly identify 92 percent of patients infected by the disease that has killed more than 9,400 people, mainly in West Africa.
Meanwhile at UN headquarters, Dr. Bruce Aylward, who leads WHO’s response on Ebola, and Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, briefed Member States on the need to maintain the robust response to get the number of cases to zero.
“As long as there is even one case of Ebola active in the human population, it’s a danger for everybody – it’s a problem for West Africa, it’s a problem for [wider] Africa and it’s a problem for the world, Dr. Nabarro told reporters after their briefing. “We must be fully engaged, all of us, until the last person with Ebola is treated and is cured.”
On to Sierra Leone and another treatment trial, via the Guardian:
Trials using Ebola survivors’ blood for treatment to start in Sierra Leone
- Clinical tests due to start in February in Sierra Leone will be used to establish whether antibodies in the plasma of Ebola survivors can save lives
Clinical trials using the blood of Ebola survivors in treatment are to be extended to Sierra Leone.
Discussions have been held about transferring blood plasma already banked in the Liberian capital Monrovia to Sierra Leone, where between 60 and 80 people a week are being infected.
Technicians at Sierra Leone’s National Safe Blood Transfusion Service were trained in Liberia on the apheresis plasma extraction machines at the end of January.
Two new apheresis machines are being shipped to the national blood bank in Sierra Leone for the study, said Simona Zipursky, a World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Freetown.
And from the Sierra Leone Telegraph, the dark side:
Reckless information minister calls missing Ebola funds audit report baseless, fallacious and a distraction
According to reports, Sierra Leone’s reckless and infamous minister of information – Alpha Kanu, has now turned his poisonous fangs on to the credibility and hard earned, no nonsense image of the country’s astute Auditor General – Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce.
The Auditor General’s report into millions of dollars stolen from the Ebola fund, has irreparably ruptured trust in the government’s ability to manage public funds, as the number of new Ebola cases rises once again.
And serious questions are now being asked as to whether the Koroma government should, and can ever be trusted with managing foreign aid, which accounts for over 60% of the country’s revenue stream.
On to Liberia and another cause for concern, via FrontPageAfrica:
Ebola Threat: S.D. Cooper Hospital Closed – 30 Quarantined
At one of Liberia’s private hospitals, more than 30 persons are said to be quarantined after authorities say a woman who knew she had Ebola deliberately tried to infect the staff of the S.D. Cooper Hospital in Sinkor. Madam Amanda Blah who died early this month disguised herself and went to over three health facilities including Mawah, JFK and S.D. Cooper.
The death of Blah followed when her cousin named Steve Yadolo who died from the virus in the Bong Mines bridge community, but infected three persons, including Blah, his sister Marlene Yadolo, and brother Elijah Yadolo who are presently at an ETU in the country.
The late Yadolo was a hygienist in Sector 2 and came in contact with a suspect of the Ebola virus at the Island Clinic ETU. According to a source, the case of Blah came from an outbreak in Bong Mines Bridge where there was a missing contact. A source confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that Blah disguised herself and went to Mawah Clinic, where she changed her name and came in contact with several health workers.
From the Associated Press, looking for help:
AP Interview: Liberia leader urges help in post-Ebola phase
Liberia’s leader on Sunday urged the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease.
In an interview with The Associated Press, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Liberia needs outside help to see through its “post-Ebola agenda” of building up basic public services — development that she said was needed to prevent another deadly epidemic from becoming “a global menace.”
Among the needs she highlighted were power projects to keep hospital equipment running, roads so the sick can access medical facilities, and clean water to prevent diseases from spreading.
And Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers border closings relaxed:
Liberia lifts Ebola curfew, re-opens borders
Liberia said on Friday (Feb 20) it was lifting nationwide curfews and re-opening borders shut last year at the height of the Ebola crisis, after the retreat of an epidemic that has killed thousands.
The move comes with Liberia and its neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone seeing new infections drop to a tenth of the numbers being reported at the September-October peak of the outbreak.
Liberia, which has recorded the most deaths and was hardest hit, is leading the recovery, reporting just a handful of new confirmed cases each week.
From the New Dawn, hypocrisy alleged:
Ebola survivors protest in Nimba
More than 10 Ebola survivors in Small Ganta and other parts of Nimba County have threatened to pick bones with the World Food Program, or WFP, for alleged neglect, while others say they would commit suicide due to continuous stigmatization from residents.
According to the Ebola survivors, the WFP left them out of a recent cell phones distribution along with mobile money.
One of the aggrieved survivors Mamie Forlay, told The New Dawn Nimba correspondent they were enticed to post for photograph, but unfortunately didn’t receive these items.
“The Nimba County Health Team, WFP, and UNICEF have been distributing food rations and other relief items to Ebola survivors in Small Ganta community, but only today they are coming up to stop us from receiving these rations”, she lamented.
FrontPageAfrica covers help from abroad:
African Ebola Task Force Launches Food Drive for Ebola Orphans
The Minnesota African Task Force Against Ebola (MATFAE) will launch a food drive for Ebola orphans and neglected children in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, on Saturday Feb. 21, at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center–5600 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, Minn.
The public event, designed as a first step in a sustained campaign to help address hunger and food insecurity in the three countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak, will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Even as a united world races to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa, life-threatening hunger and chronic food insecurity are beginning to devastate the lives of vulnerable people, especially poor families, orphans, neglected children, and seniors,” said Robena Lewis-Vincent, project coordinator of the food drive. “Unless the African Diaspora plays its part, so many vulnerable lives will be exposed to serious life-threatening crises beyond our worse fears.”
Heritage covers another call for help:
Brown urges EU support for roads to health program
Information Minister Lewis Brown has called for collaboration between Liberia and the European Union (EU) in constructing more feeder roads that lead to health facilities in the country.
Brown noted that if Liberia’s healthcare system is built to full capacity it will only be useful and more accessible in rural Liberia if roads leading to hospitals and other public health facilities are in good condition.
The Minister made the statement in a meeting with EU Ambassador to Liberia, TiinaIntelmann, at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia on Wednesday.
Finally, taking Ebolaphobia to extremes, via the Associated Press:
N. Korea bars tourists from popular race over Ebola concerns
North Korean authorities are barring foreigners from this year’s Pyongyang marathon, a popular tourist event, amid ongoing Ebola travel restrictions, the head of a travel agency that specializes in the country said Monday.
Nick Bonner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, said more than 400 foreign runners had signed up with his agency alone for the event, which is to be held April 12. He said he was informed by officials on Monday that the race would be open only to local runners.
Though no cases of Ebola have been reported anywhere near North Korea, the country shut its borders to foreign tourists in October with strict regulations to keep the virus out. North Korean media have suggested Ebola was created by the U.S. military as a biological weapon.