We begin with the latest epidemiological curve from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, depicting the number of new cases for each week since the outbreak began:
And the bottom line, via South Africa’s Independent Online:
WHO: 99 Ebola cases in past week
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone reported 99 new confirmed Ebola cases in the week to February 22, down from 128 the previous week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.
Sierra Leone accounted for the bulk of the latest infections with 63, signalling a halt to a steep decline recorded from December through January, followed by Guinea with 35 and Liberia just a single case, the UN agency said in its weekly report.
“Cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission,” the WHO said. Sixteen of the new cases were identified in Guinea and Sierra Leone after post-mortem testing of people who died in the community “indicating that a significant number of individuals are still either unable or reluctant to seek treatment.”
The Associated Press covers a decision to come:
UN plans decision in August on mass Ebola vaccine program
The World Health Organization says a decision will be made in August whether to recommend a program of mass vaccination against Ebola in affected countries.
The U.N. health agency says an independent expert group will weigh the results of ongoing clinical trials, the state of the epidemic and the logistical challenges of carrying out such a program.
At the moment, two Ebola vaccines are being tested, but it’s unknown how effective they are or what dose might be needed to protect people against the deadly virus.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday a final decision about whether to conduct widespread immunization would be taken by the ministers of the countries involved.
On to Sierra Leone, first with a new hot spot, via the Guardian:
Ebola: Sierra Leone village in lockdown after 31 new cases recorded
- Flare-up of virus in community just outside town of Makeni with WHO linking cases to one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown
Efforts to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone have been dealt a setback after 31 new cases were recorded in one village.
The community of 500 just outside the town of Makeni has now been put in lockdown by the army amid fears that more could be infected.
The World Health Organisation said cases had been linked to one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown to go to his village for treatment from a traditional faith healer.
The quarantine area is a fishing community, yards from the hotel where many workers from humanitarian agencies have stayed.
From the Sierra Leone Concord Times again, economics:
‘Ebola does not stop our economic activities’
- Bombali Peace Mothers declares
The Peace Mothers in Masabong Section in the Pakimasabong Chiefdom are one of the successful Peace Mother groups in Fambul Tok International’s operational areas in the Bombali District. Before the war, the community continued to be challenged by issues bordering on women’s participation in community development, gender and the rights of children. Women’s effective participation in development was more pervasive in that community where traditional practices in most cases overshadowed their participation.
After the war, it was very difficult for people to work together. There was an atmosphere of fear, grudge, suspicion, lack of cohesion and the initiative to undertake livelihood activities by community members, especially women.
After their healing and reconciliation ceremonies in 2011, the Peace Mothers initiated the idea of micro revolving loans. It all started with community members contributing money as revolve scheme amongst themselves in all 14 villages in the chiefdom.
While the government wants to call a halt to some economic activity, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:
Port Loko residents defy public emergency orders
Youth leader of Port Loko town, Mohamed Kamara, has told Concord Times that residents of the north-western township were in the habit of going about trading well beyond the stipulated 6:00pm time stipulated by government, in defiance of presidential orders.
“The district is now deemed as the Ebola epicenter with high rate of deaths. We are calling on the authorities concerned to stop street trading at night,” Kamara pleaded.
However, Sergeant Ibrahim M. Sesay of the Port Loko police division said efforts were being made to put a stop to night trading in the township. “The police force is working hard to contain the Ebola viral disease in the entire Port Loko district and we will not condone lawlessness,” he said.
And the Thomson Reuters Foundation covers collateral damage:
Ebola halts HIV progress in Sierra Leone, says UN
The West African Ebola outbreak has halted progress in tackling HIV in Sierra Leone, shutting health clinics and scaring patients from being tested or seeking treatment, the United Nations has said.
In an internal document seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) raised concerns that HIV prevalence and drug resistance in the country could increase as a result.
The worst recorded outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 9,500 people, infected over 23,500 others and placed immense pressure on already weak health systems in hardest-hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“Hospitals have closed down because they have been overrun by Ebola patients and non-Ebola patients are too afraid to go to them for fear of catching the virus,” said Hakan Bjorkman, who manages UNDP’s AIDS programme.
“HIV prevention activities in schools and awareness raising for the general population has been suspended due to the restriction of movement, the closure of all education institutions and the overall ban on public gathering.”
On to Liberia and a departure, via the New Dawn:
U.S. Joint Forces Command departs Saturday
The Joint Forces Command United Assistance of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division departs Liberia this Saturday, 28 February 2015 for the United State of America after five months of vigorous support to the Government of Liberia’s fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
Speaking Thursday at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia, during a Color Casing Ceremony, the Commander of the Joint Forces Command United Assistance, Major/General Gary J. Volesky, said, the mission here was to support lead federal agency, the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, by providing unique military capabilities to help contain the virus and reduce the spread of Ebola in Liberia, and to execute the tasks with speed and flexibility that would not only help build confidence among Liberians that the virus could be defeated, but also help garner the support of the international community to also assist in the fight against the disease.
Gen. Volesky said, as the 101st Airborne Division departs Liberia, the fight to getting to zero will still continue and the JFC has ensured that capabilities brought will be sustained in the future. “ETU construction, health care workers training, and logistical sustainment operations for Ebola containment have been transitioned to reliable partners that will continue supporting the fight against the EVD”, he said.
From CCTV Africa, a video report on the pullout:
U.S. Military Ends Ebola Mission in Liberia
The Americans have ended their Ebola support mission in Liberia – four months ahead of schedule. The decision to withdraw comes due to the dramatic drop in the number of cases in the past month
The New York Times covers a plea:
Liberia’s President Urges U.S. to Continue Ebola Aid
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia on Friday urged the United States to maintain its assistance to her country as it continues to fight to recover from the Ebola outbreak, which began about one year ago.
In a meeting at the White House with President Obama, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf asked for help with power projects to keep the country’s hospitals and new treatment centers running, for clean water and sanitation facilities to stop the disease from spreading, and for road construction to make it easier for sick people in rural areas to get to hospitals.
“We can neither rest, nor lift our foot off the gas,” Ms. Johnson Sirleaf said on Thursday during an earlier event on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware. “We are determined to get to zero cases by April 15.”
AllAfrica covers help from Europe:
Liberia: EU Earmarks U.S.$326 Million for Liberia
The European Development Fund has allocated EUR 279 million (about US$326 million) to support Liberia’s development programs.
The funds will be divided and spread over good governance, energy, education and agriculture, according to a release from the European Union (EU) delegation to LiberiaThursday.
The release indicated that a high-level conference on Ebola will take place in Brussels on Tuesday, March 3, noting that the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Program for Liberia 2014-2020 will be signed between Liberia and the EU during the conference.
From StarAfrica, a drug trial begins:
Liberia: Clinical study of Ebola trial drug begins
A full-scale clinical trial of the experimental Ebola Drug Zmapp commenced at the ELWA-II Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Monrovia Friday, an official of the trial team has disclosed.
Dr Jerry Brown who is Liberia’s Co-principal Coordinator for the trial, said the trial process is a partnership initiative between the government and the U.S National Institute of Health.
Making the disclosure at the Ministry of Information’s daily Ebola press
briefings on Friday, Brown noted that the trial of the drug will target people who are confirmed positive of the disease.
He explained that the trial of the drug is intended to find a perfect cure for Ebola as well as authenticate whether if administered alone, the Zmapp drug can heal an affected patient.
And from FrontPageAfrica, pressing the press:
Liberian Journalists Cautioned On Ebola Trial Vaccine
The Communications Officer of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (Liberia), Madam Lisa White has called on Liberian journalists to properly research their information before putting it out for public consumption. She made a specific reference to journalists that are involved in reporting on Ebola victims.
Speaking at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia Wednesday February 25, 2015 where she served as a facilitator at a media training workshop on the Ebola trial vaccine in Liberia, Madam White said verifying information before publication will help the public get accurate information. Journalists mainly attended the workshop from various media institutions in Liberia including the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Abdullah Kamara.
She urged journalists to protect the identity of those who have been infected with the virus and their family members. Madam White frowned on the misapplication of photos being used by print media, citing an example of journalists using a dead body photo on their front pages, “We need to protect the family of the dead or Ebola infected from stigma, if we publish the photos of these individuals, we stigmatize their families for life,” she cautioned journalists.
And to close, a potential case from the New Dawn:
Bomi quarantines Catholic priest
Health authorities in Tubmanburg, Bomi County have quarantined a Catholic cleric, Father Gary Jenkins, to conduct Ebola tests on him, a correspondent for Monrovia-based Radio Veritas in Bomi says.
The clergy has however had his first test result come negative, and a second test was due to confirm his health status before he could possibly be discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit in Tubmanburg, the correspondent adds.
The Veritas correspondent, who also manages a community radio in the county, reported on Thursday that Father Jenkins’ first Ebola test result came out on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. Father Jenkins is said to be a clergy at St. Dominic Catholic Parish in Tubmanburg, but so far there is no information available to this paper of any Ebola incident there.