We begin with today’s numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
The New York Times covers a complication:
Ebola Victims Still Infectious a Week After Death, Scientists Find
People who die of Ebola probably remain infectious for at least a week after death, according to a new study. The findings underscore how important it is to safely handle and bury corpses in the epidemic.
Funerals at which mourners washed or touched bodies are believed to have spread the disease to many new victims. In a safer practice, teams dressed in full protective gear spray the body with bleach, put it in a body bag and then either cremate it or bury it deeply. At the funeral, family members are allowed to view the body but not to touch it.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the study offered “microbiological proof positive of what we’ve been observing in a field setting — that kissing or washing or caressing bodies is almost certainly the way a lot gets transmitted.”
Reuters covers another vaccine trial:
Novavax starts Ebola vaccine trial in humans
Novavax is testing its Ebola GP Vaccine in 230 healthy volunteers in Australia. Each subject, aged between 18 and 50, will receive two intramuscular injections 21 days apart. Results are expected by the end of the second quarter, Erck said.
Early human data on a vaccine being developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc , the most advanced to date, has suggested a single dose may not provoke an immune response strong enough to protect those exposed to Ebola.
Other drugmakers are collaborating to develop vaccines: NewLink Genetics Corp with Merck & Co Inc and Johnson & Johnson with Bavarian Nordic A/S.
The United Nations News Center covers food aid:
Ebola: World Bank will provide seeds to farmers in West Africa to ward off hunger
The World Bank Group announced today that it has mobilized some $15 million in emergency financing to provide a record 10,500 tons of maize and rice seed to more than 200,000 farmers in the countries most-affected by the unprecedented Ebola outbreak, in time for the April planting season.
“Agriculture is the lifeline of the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice-President for Africa. “By speeding supplies of urgently needed seeds of major food crops to communities in West Africa, we are jumpstarting recovery in rural areas and preventing the looming specter of hunger in the countries hardest hit by Ebola.”
According to the World Bank, “more than one million people could go hungry unless they have reliable access to food and emergency measures are taken immediately to safeguard crop and livestock production.”
A recent World Bank Group report shows that the Ebola crisis has taken a heavy toll on the economies in all three countries, and the agriculture and food sectors have been particularly hard hit.
On to Liberia, and a very reasonable back-to-school delay, via FrontPageAfrica:
Liberia Delays School Reopening as Ebola Virus Decline
Liberia has for the third time announced a delay in the reopening of school following improvement in the fight against the outbreak of Ebola in the country. Schools were ordered closed during the early time of the outbreak beginning March and were expected to reopen on February 2. Ebola has killed 3,146 people with a total of 8,881 cases reported in Liberia alone.
Following a drop in the number of cases of the virus, the Government announced that school would have resumed on February 2 but that date was pushed further by two weeks to the 16 before another announcement of a new date to March 2, 2015. The Ministry of Education in a release said the decision to delay the reopening of schools from February to March is in response to appeals by parents and school administrators.
“The public is hereby informed that due to numerous appeals from school administrators, parents and other stakeholders, the commencement of classes has now been scheduled for Monday 2, 2015,” the Ministry of Education release added.
“Meanwhile, school authorities are urged to complete all outstanding orientation activities for teachers and students, including refresher and Ebola Training workshops,” the release continued. The ministry has called on school authorities to honor the new date as they prepare for the reopening of schools across the country. The Ministry decision comes in the wake of a three-page report recently released by the National Legislature, which called for the postponement of the reopening of schools from February 16 to March 2 2015.
The Monrovia Inquirer covers questions raised:
So Communication Is Still A Problem In Government? The Case Of The Reopening Of Schools
Many times in some of my articles on the governance system of the country, I maintain that the issue of coordination in terms of communication by the government remains a major problem, as the lack of coordinated communication to create a situation of misinformation to the population, thereby putting them in a state of confusion on some of the decisions or actions taken by their leaders because of conflicting poorly coordinated information on a particular issue to the people.
The situation within the government can be likened to the anecdote of what one expects with ‘many cooks spoil the broth’ in the kitchen. Sometimes, it is simply phrased as, “too many cooks spoil the food”, meaning that because very individual cooks do everything individually, instead of preparing the meal collectively, the prepared food would not produce the desired result or piquancy, as expected.
In the case of communication to the people by their leaders, if care is not taken in how the leaders go about communication or the way and manner in which the leaders communicate with the people, then, communication has not then taken place. Communication is such that even the words or phraseology employed, if it is not done properly, then, communication has not taken place because the receiver for whom a piece of communication is intended, if they do not really understand that piece of communication, then, communication has not taken place.
And an American survivor returns to Liberia, via FrontPageAfrica:
American Doctor, Ebola Survivor Back “Home” in Liberia
Dr. Rick Sacra, is back in Liberia continuing his medical practice at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. Sacra arrived in Liberia on 18 January 2015 after being infected with the Ebola Virus Disease last August.
He was flown to the U.S. for treatment after spending three days in the ELWA Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in August 2014. As the third American Ebola patient, Sacra was released from the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on 26 September after receiving an experimental drug,
TKM-Ebola, supportive care and blood serum from Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly. According to doctors, it is not clear which treatment saved his life. Sacra, a family physician and missionary, looking back at his experience working at the ELWA Hospital, believes he contracted the disease while delivering babies and performing C-sections during the height of the Ebola crisis.
From the Monrovia Inquirer, disease hunters trained:
UNDP MCBI Trains Additional 200 Active Case Finders
At least two hundred community volunteers have been trained to conduct Active Case Finding in district 16 in Montserrado County. The one day exercise was conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Montserrado Community Based Initiative (MCBI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The training of the 200 volunteers is intended to scale up the work of 1,300 volunteers already deployed in at least 5 districts in Montserrado County involved in identifying Ebola cases, conducting door-to-door sensitization and provide psycho-social among others.
The training of the two hundred community volunteers comes as the response to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic moves to a second phase, with the focus shifting from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic in Liberia and the other two most affected countries.
The Liberian Observer covers praise offered:
UNDP Boss Lauds Bomi for Ebola Progress Response
The Country Director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has lauded the people of Bomi County for the level of progress made in combating the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen said he was pleased that the county level support provided by the UNDP to Bomi and other counties has immensely helped in the EVD response in the country.
“We are here to monitor the progress that we are making with the support that the UNDP has been providing to Bomi County at the local level in response to the EVD,” Dr. Kamaluddeen said in Tubmanburg, Bomi County recently during a fact finding visit.
And from Heritage, some good news:
No new Ebola case in Cape Mount in 2 weeks
The head of Grand Cape Mount County Health Team (CHT), Dr. Loraine Cooper, has revealed that the county has not recorded a new case of Ebola for more than two weeks now.
The last Ebola case recorded was in mid-January, when 33 cases were reported with a number of deaths, according to the Liberia News Agency(LINA) correspondent in the county.
Cooper made the statement recently at the County Ebola Taskforce coordination meeting held in Robertsport.
She said the rapid reduction in Ebola cases is a direct result of the citizens’ adherence to the preventive measures introduced by government, contrary to the past when the measures were largely ignored, raising the number of cases.
The News covers a visit that’s a perfect transition to out next item:
“Continue The Fight Against Ebola”
Guinean President Alpha Conde has urged Liberia and countries affected by Ebola to continue the fight not only against the virus, but its resultant consequences. Conde stressed the need for Ebola-affected countries to devise a unified goal and understanding as they present their post-Ebola economic recovery plan to the international community.
The Guinean leader made the statement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday when he led a Guinean delegation on a one-day solidarity visit to Liberia. Conde, who is the current Chairman for the Mano River Union (MRU) countries, expressed gratitude over efforts made by the Liberian Government and people against the Ebola virus and hoped that the country will not register any new cases.
“Liberia and Guinea have a long history, and because we believe that the two nations are the same, a problem in Liberia also means a problem in Guinea. We have a common destiny in the turmoil we are facing,” Conde asserted.
And on to his country, and a troubling development from Reuters:
Red Cross Ebola teams in Guinea attacked 10 times a month
Red Cross teams in Ebola-hit Guinea have been attacked on average 10 times a month over the past year, the charity said on Thursday, warning that the violence was hampering efforts to contain the disease.
In the most recent incident last Sunday in the town of Forecariah about 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Conakry, two Red Cross volunteers were beaten while trying to conduct a safe burial, the charity said.
Ending traditional burials is seen as crucial to stopping the spread of the latest outbreak, which has killed more than 9,100 people, mainly in West Africa, because rituals often involve extensive contact with highly contagious corpses.
“As long as people have misconceptions about how Ebola is spread, and continue to prevent volunteers from doing their work, we will not stop the disease,” said Youssouf Traore, president of the Red Cross Society of Guinea.
On to Sierra Leone and signs of good news coming, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:
‘Port Loko, Western Area will start recording zero infection soon’
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) yesterday assured Sierra Leoneans that Port Loko district and the Western Area will soon start to record zero Ebola infection.
Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh told newsmen that the two districts have accounted for about 60% of new infection cases in the last three weeks, adding that community mobilization was key in the Ebola fight.
“Let me assure you all here that the situation in Port Loko and Western Area will soon be put under control. They will start to record zero new infection, but again we must all be reminded that it will be difficult without the participation of everyone,” he said.
From the Sierra Leone Concord Times again, oue last offering and a warning:
Ebola: still a long way to go
- UK Task Force chiefs brief media on progress
Heads of the UK’s Ebola Task Force in Sierra Leone gave joint interviews this week to two of Sierra Leone’s radio stations updating listeners on how the UK’s response to the Ebola crisis is progressing.
Speaking to Capital Radio’s Kris MacKormack and on SLBC’s “Tea Break” programme on Monday morning, Mr. Donal Brown from the UK’s Department for International Department (DFID) and Brigadier Andrew Hughes from the British Army said that headway has been made in fighting the disease but there is still a long way to go before life can return to normal.
Mr. Brown, who is leading the UK’s entire response in Sierra Leone, told Capital Radio: “The biggest challenge for everybody now is complacency. I think too many people in this country think the fight is over and it is not. The last mile will be the hardest we have got down to somewhere between about sixty and eighty cases nationwide a week but that is sixty or eighty cases too many.
“We already see people are slacking off on their behaviours, there are a lot more unsafe burials happening and people are not paying attention as they should do and there is always a danger that it will come back if we do not keep focused, so it is all about leadership now and focus.”