First, the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
We begin with the latest drug research, via, Kyodo News:
Trials of Japanese drug encouraging for Ebola treatment: France
The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, known as Inserm, said Thursday that clinical trials of the Japanese anti-influenza drug Avigan Tablet have shown encouraging results for treating Ebola in Guinea.
After being informed of the outcome by the national medical institution, the French president’s office said in a statement the trials of the drug showed a fall in the number of deaths and accelerated recovery of patients, according to French public radio reports.
Avigan, developed by Toyoma Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., could become the first effective medicine to treat Ebola, which has caused nearly 9,000 deaths mainly in West Africa.
From the United Nations News Center, end game caution:
‘Last mile in fight against Ebola will be the hardest,’ says senior UN relief official
The international community’s mobilization in the global Ebola response has been “very impressive and effective” but efforts to reach zero cases must continue unabated, a top United Nations humanitarian official has confirmed.
“There is most definitely a fantastic combined community, national and international effort that has turned this crisis around,” John Ging, Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters at a press briefing in New York earlier today.
“But there is no room for complacency,” Mr. Ging added. “The last mile is the hardest mile. We must stay the course.”
Confirming the need for ongoing vigilance, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today a surge in new Ebola cases this past week, ending a series of declines the agency noted when it reported that the number of new cases in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recently fell below 100 for the first time in seven months.
“While remarkable progress has been made, we must not forget that it only takes one new case to start a new outbreak,” stressed Mr. Ging.
A similar perspective, via Voice of America:
Window for Containing Ebola Outbreak Seen Narrowing
The World Health Organization reports that good progress is being made toward containing the Ebola epidemic, but it warns that the outbreak is far from over and still poses a grave threat.
David Nabarro, special envoy of the U.N. secretary-general, is urging people not to become complacent. Though cases of Ebola are declining, he said, a great deal of hard work remains to get to zero cases and zero transmission.
To prove this point, Nabarro noted that WHO reported 124 new confirmed cases of Ebola this past week, an increase of 25 cases from the previous week.
“There will always be volatility,” he said. “Numbers will go up and down, but the more we are able to actively seek out cases and follow up their contacts, the better our results will be. … Now to finish the work off, it will be necessary to continue to bring in materials and people, so that we can undertake the kind of detective work that is necessary … to overcome the disease and also, at the same time, to get basic services back and working again.”
But this takes lots of money. Nabarro said the United Nations needs $1 billion to finish the job — now.
The Guardian covers needed relief:
IMF grants Ebola-hit countries $100m debt relief
- International Monetary Fund urges other lenders to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take similar action to ease financial burden
The three countries stricken by Ebola have been granted debt relief of about $100m (£65m) by the International Monetary Fund, which has been under pressure to relieve the financial burden on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The IMF also urged other international lenders to the countries to take similar action as it established a catastrophe containment relief trust to provide grants to countries suffering epidemics and other natural disasters.
The trust will provide the money to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea so they can pay off debt to the IMF. The IMF also offered the west African states $160m of new interest-free loans.
From Reuters, complications:
Secret burials thwarting efforts to stamp out Ebola – U.N.
Efforts to stamp out West Africa’s Ebola epidemic are being thwarted by villagers touching and washing the infectious bodies of dead victims at secret burials and difficulty in tracing those exposed to the virus, U.N. officials said on Thursday.
The number of new cases rose for the first time this year in the past week, coinciding with a looming funding shortfall and the approach of the rainy season that will hamper aid efforts from April, they warned. [ID: nL6N0VE530]
“The commonest way in which people are getting Ebola is through the rituals that take place when somebody is buried, particularly the important cleansing and touching that goes on,” Dr. David Nabarro, U.N. Ebola special envoy, told a briefing.
On to Liberia, where case continue, via the News in Monrovia:
Margibi Confirms Ebola Death
Health authorities in Margibi County have recorded two confirmed Ebola deaths in the county.
The County Health Officer, Dr. Adolphus Yeah, told The NEWS that the first confirmed death was reported in the county after a man from the St. Paul’s bridge community in Montserrado County died days after he fled his community.
According to Dr. Yeah, the man, identified as John Forkpa, fled from his St. Paul bridge residence on January 27, 2015 and reportedly died on Sunday, February 1, 2015 in Dogbahta, a village in Borlorlah Township, about 15 kilometers from the provincial city of Kakata. Dr. Yeah explained that specimen from the deceased confirmed that he had Ebola.
Meanwhile, the County Health team has launched a vigorous contact tracing for all those who interacted with the man prior to his demise.
The CHO also disclosed that the two villages, including Dogbahta and Papata have been quarantined as part of measures intended to prevent the spread of the disease.
After the jump, vaccine targets set, cautious political optimism, providing light and communication for survivors, on to Sierra Leone and an obstructionist tribal leader, and a Paramount Chief threatens survivors. . . Continue reading