First the latest numbers for the three hardest-hit countries from today’s Situation Summary from the World Health Organization:
Next, via the Guardian, a vote of confidence:
CDC director confident that Ebola cases in west Africa can be reduced to zero
- Dr Tom Frieden warns: ‘We are by no means out of the woods’
- Ebola has killed at least 8,371 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea
The director of the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention said on Tuesday he was “confident” that the Ebola outbreak ravaging west Africa can be brought under control but that “we are by no means out of the woods”.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting in Washington with public health officials and lawmakers, Dr Tom Frieden said it is vital that every case of the disease is eliminated.
“I remain very confident we can get to zero cases in this epidemic if we continue the way we’re going and nothing unexpected happens,” Frieden said.
“The largest, biggest risk is that it continues to fester and continues to spread at a low rate, which means it could flare up at any time,” he added. “We have to get to zero and then stay at zero and that’s going to require monitoring, surveillance.”
From Outbreak News Today, more good news:
Ebola outbreak: ‘Realistic possibility’ epidemic in Liberia will be over this summer
The Ebola epidemic in Liberia could likely be eliminated by June 2015 if the current high rate of hospitalization and vigilance can be maintained, according to a new model developed by ecologists at the University of Georgia and Pennsylvania State University.
The model includes such factors as the location of infection and treatment, the development of hospital capacity and the adoption of safe burial practices and is “probably the first to include all those elements,” said John Drake, an associate professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology who led the project. The study appears in the open access journal PLOS Biology Jan. 13.
Drake said that the UGA model should be useful to public health officials as they continue to combat the Ebola epidemic because it offers both general insights and realistic forecasts, something few models are able to do.
During the fall of 2014, the authors ran the model for five different hospital capacity scenarios. For the worst case, with no further increase in hospital beds, the median projection was for 130,000 total cases through the end of 2014; for the best case—an increase of 1,400 more beds, for roughly 1,700 total or an 85 percent hospitalization rate—the median projection was 50,000 cases. After the authors updated it with more recent information collected through Dec. 1, the model projected that, if an 85 percent hospitalization rate can be achieved, the epidemic should be largely contained by June.
From United Press International, the first in a threesome of American false alarms:
Dead Fort Hood soldier to be tested for Ebola
A soldier found dead on his doorstep Tuesday will be tested for Ebola, though health officials don’t believe he was infected on a recent deployment to West Africa.
The soldier, whose name wasn’t reported, was part of a group of 87 soldiers who returned to the United States on Sunday after helping to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia.
“The soldier had recently returned on emergency leave and was under established guidelines to self-monitor himself twice-a-day and report his status to medical officials,” a statement from Fort Hood military base said. “At this point, there is no indication of the Ebola virus disease, but medical tests are underway to ensure there is no threat to the community.”
An update from USA Today:
Initial tests show dead soldier has no Ebola
A soldier found dead on his doorstep who recently returned from Liberia initially has tested negative for the virus, Fort Hood officials said Tuesday.
The soldier, who returned to the USA earlier this month after being deployed to help fight the Ebola outbreak, died from unknown causes, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. Further medical tests are being conducted to determine why he died.
The soldier, a 24-year-old man whose name was not released pending notification of family, died at his apartment off base and had been monitoring his temperature and other potential symptoms, reporting his status to medical officials, a Fort Hood statement said. That’s standard procedure for 21 days after any troops leave a zone where Ebola outbreaks have occurred.
The second false alarm, via Reuters:
Colorado patient tests negative for Ebola – state health officials
A patient being monitored at a Denver hospital after traveling to countries with a history of Ebola has tested negative for the disease, Colorado health officials said on Monday.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had said the test at a state lab was ordered out of “an abundance of caution.”
And, apparently, a third from the Associated Press:
Omaha hospital: Health care worker hasn’t developed Ebola
Officials at an Omaha hospital say an American health care worker who was exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone has not developed the virus.
The patient arrived in Omaha on Jan. 4 for treatment in the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center. The hospital said in a news release Monday that the patient will remain in the unit throughout the virus’s 21-day incubation period, which began before he or she arrived at the hospital. A discharge date was not released.
The hospital says the patient doesn’t want to be publicly identified but authorized the condition update.
On to Africa and a community campaign via Voice of America’s TV2Africa:
I Survived Ebola
A campaign dubbed “I Survived Ebola” is generating a lot of buzz on social media. Last week VOA’s On the Line Show featured the creators of the campaign, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States and others on the front lines of the fight against Ebola. VOA’s Paul Ndiho has our report.
FrontPageAfrica metes out responsibility:
WHO, International Community Cannot Escape Ebola Blame
Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone Messed up, but the world bodies’ slow response helped spike outbreak, deaths
A report by the World Health Organization released this week is laying the blame for mishandling of the deadly Ebola crisis squarely on the governments of the three West African nations badly affected by the outbreak.
As a result, the international agency is seeking more power to tackle health emergencies in the future, according to documents published by the international agency and reported by Reuters on Monday.
The WHO report offers numerous openings for criticisms and some room for suspect. No international agency, including the WHO can escape blame for allowing this deadly outbreak to spin out of control.
While we agree that governments in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea took their eyes off the ball when the outbreak first started, the WHO and other international agencies too, wasted too much time to step in and intervene.
This is why much of the criticism involving the international community has been directed to the WHO which has been heavily criticized for the slow response to the outbreak that has so far killed at least 8,371 people out of more than 21,000 cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The Associated Press covers Chinese front line fighters on the way:
China sending large Ebola relief team to West Africa
China is ramping up its assistance in the fight against Ebola by dispatching an additional 232 army medical workers to West Africa, state media reported Tuesday.
The latest contingent to be sent to afflicted nations will depart Tuesday evening, with 154 of them headed to Liberia and 78 to Sierra Leone, according to the China Daily newspaper.
They will join 43 army doctors and 35 specialists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control already working in Sierra Leone, where they have treated 61 patients and trained 1,600 local medical workers.
While StarAfrica covers foreign financial aid:
Ebola-hit countries express to gratitude to Saudi King for donation
The ambassadors of the Ebola-hit countries; Mali, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, accredited in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on Monday hailed the financial support offered by the Saudi King to re-open the schools earlier shutdown because of the Ebola outbreak.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has donated $35 million to these countries struggling with the deadly virus through the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
The donation will help the concerned countries establish health facilities dedicated to fighting the Ebola virus.
The donation will also enable the acquisition of thermal sensors and screening gears in the identification of the people suspected with the deadly virus.
After the jump, US health experts turn the Ebola focus onto Guinea and a look on one Guinean community, then on to Liberia and an upbeat assessment, students demand free schooling to help recover from the crisis, the health minister sounds a note of caution, hints of deeper structural problems, and an intense community temperature-checking program commences, then on to Sierra Leone and a very grim scene at a cemetery, plus a cry of despair. . . Continue reading