We begin with the latest numbers, via the World Health Organization [click on the image to enlarge]:
Next, a warning from the U.N. News Center:
Amid uptick in Ebola cases, UN agency cites challenges in reaching affected communities
New cases of Ebola rose again in Guinea and transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported as it and the UN Ebola response mission both raised concerns about challenges in engaging communities to win the fight against the disease.
Both WHO and UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) also noted unsafe burials of those who died from the disease posed as a challenge and that “a significant number” of individuals are still either unable or reluctant to seek treatment for Ebola, which has affected over 23,500 people and killed more than 9,500 mainly in the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In its latest update issued Wednesday afternoon, WHO reported that new cases in Guinea continued to arise from “unknown chains of transmission” and that transmission remained “widespread in Sierra Leone” but transmission continued at very low levels in Liberia, with 1 new confirmed case reported in the 7 days to 22 February associated with a known chain of transmission.
“Engaging effectively with communities remains a challenge in several geographical areas,” WHO said in its most recent update Nearly one-third of prefectures in Guinea reported at least one security incident in the week to 22 February, often as a result of rumours and misinformation linking response efforts with the spread of EVD [Ebola Virus Disease], according to WHO.
From the Guardian, excoriation:
US quarantine for Ebola health workers ‘morally wrong’
- Bioethics commission blasts 21-day confinement for medical staff and says government must prepare better for health emergencies
Quarantine restrictions imposed in the US on healthcare workers returning from saving lives in the Ebola epidemic in west Africa were morally wrong and counterproductive, according to Barack Obama’s bioethics commission.
A comprehensive report on the US response to Ebola at home and in Africa found there was no good scientific evidence for the mandatory 21-day quarantine imposed in states including Maine, which tried to confine nurse Kaci Hickox to her home on her return from Sierra Leone. Hickox defied the order and went for a bike ride, later challenging the restrictions in court and winning permission to move freely while regularly monitoring her temperature.
The presidential commission for the study of bioethical issues said the US must be better prepared for a future emergency, arguing that the federal government has a moral and prudential responsibility to get involved in the global response.
From the Guardian again, a notable example:
New York Ebola doctor criticises ‘vilification’ by politicians and media
- Dr Craig Spencer says his case was ‘caught up in election season’
- Controversy included quarantine rules imposed by Christie and Cuomo
Craig Spencer, the doctor who was found to have Ebola days after returning to New York City from Guinea, wrote in an essay published on Wednesday that he was mistakenly cast as a “fraud, a hipster, and a hero” by the media as he fought for his life from a hospital bed.
“The truth is I am none of those things,” Spencer wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. “I’m just someone who answered a call for help and was lucky enough to survive.”
In the essay, Spencer details how his diagnosis and illness affected him physically and psychologically during the 19 days he spent recovering at New York’s Bellevue hospital.
“Though I didn’t know it then – I had no television and was too weak to read the news – during the first few days of my hospitalization, I was being vilified in the media even as my liver was failing and my fiancée was quarantined in our apartment,” he wrote.
GlobalPost covers strategy:
EU, African countries to convene on Ebola recovery
The European Union (EU) has invited African countries for a high level conference in Brussels to review current efforts of fighting Ebola and place a plan to help Liberia and the other African countries to recover from the hit of the disease.
An emailed EU statement reaching Xinhua on Thursday said the presidents and ministers of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Togo as well as representatives of the African Union Commission, the UN, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the European Union will all be attending at the very highest level.
Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf will co-chair the conference on Ebola and she will be speaking as spokesperson for the Mano River Union (MRU).
During this High Level Conference, the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Program for Liberia 2014-2020 will be signed between Liberia and the EU.
From the New York Times, some notably good news:
Fatality Rate in West Africa Ebola Clinics Is Dropping
As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa wanes, physicians from Doctors Without Borders are confronting a mystery: More of their patients are surviving. They do not know why.
“The reasons are really unclear,” said Dr. Gilles van Cutsem, who helped run the agency’s response in Liberia and gave a presentation describing its experience at an AIDS conference here.
Doctors Without Borders, better known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières — has cared for more Ebola patients in West Africa than any other organization. At its peak, it was running 22 centers; it now runs eight.
Since last March, the average death rate at those remaining centers has dropped to 52 percent, from about 62 percent.
On to Liberia, first with a withdrawal from CBC News:
Ebola outbreak: U.S. military ends mission in Liberia months early
- More than 4,000 Liberians have been killed by the virus
The U.S. military officially ended a mission to build treatment facilities to combat an Ebola outbreak in Liberia on Thursday, months earlier than expected, in the latest indication that a year-long epidemic in West Africa is waning.
Washington launched the mission five months ago and the force peaked at over 2,800 troops at a time when Liberia was at the epicentre of the worst Ebola epidemic on record.
“While our large scale military mission is ending…the fight to get to zero cases will continue and the (Joint Force Command) has ensured capabilities were brought that will be sustained in the future,” said U.S. Army Maj.- Gen. Gary Volesky.
The Monrovia Inquirer covers some numerical good news:
Only 2 Ebola Confirmed Cases Now…Mont. Goes 7 Days Without New Outbreak
It has been announced in Monrovia that of the nineteen Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) spread through the country, only two confirmed Ebola cases are being treated as of February 14, 2015.
Acting Information Minister, Isaac W. Jackson told the daily Ebola press briefing yesterday that this is an indication that Liberia is making significant progress in the fight against the Ebola demon.
Minister Jackson used the occasion to dispel rumors that there is a new outbreak of Ebola in Margibi County but noted that there were only two cases which have since been dealt with.
Minister Jackson also disclosed that for the past seven days there has been no new case of Ebola in Montserrado while Lofa County which was the epicenter for the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has had no new case in more than forty days.
More numbers, first from the New Dawn:
Liberian households return to work
-as Ebola wanes
The World Bank Group says nearly 20 percent of Liberians, who had stopped working since the Ebola crisis, have returned to work in the last month.
The Bank’s report is contained in its most recent round of cell-phone surveys, signaling both important progress and the magnitude of the challenge ahead.
The report, released Tuesday, described this improvement as an encouraging sign of a shift toward economic normalization, mainly driven by a large increase in wage work in urban areas.
According to the World Bank Group, a substantial percentage of those working pre-crisis remain out of work, however; those in self-employment continue to be the hardest hit by the Ebola crisis, pointing to a lack of working capital and a lack of customers as the main barriers to their operation.
More from AllAfrica:
Liberia: World Bank Spots Food Insecurity in Liberia
The World Bank says food insecurity will persists nationwide in Liberia as nearly three-quarters of households are worried over enough harvest to eat.
The World Bank in a release noted that despite improvement in the outlook of Ebola cases in the country, agriculture remains a concern as nearly 65 percent of agricultural households surveyed believe that their harvest would be smaller than the previous year.
However, the 65 percent fear is a decrease from the 80 percent in the previous survey in December 2014.
The survey noted labor shortages and households inability to work in groups.
After the jump, giving the press a vaccination briefing, finds for assessing psychological impacts, on to Guinea and a debunking of deadly Ebola myths, on to Sierra Leone and a call for a corruption purge and a case of missing connections. . . Continue reading