We begin with the latest case counts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Next, from the Guardian, an ongoing concern:
Ebola: how to prevent a lethal legacy for food security
- The World Food Programme warns that 1.4 million people could become malnourished because of Ebola. We must act quickly to avoid catastrophe
The Ebola outbreak did what outbreaks do: affected movement. People were afraid of the virus and governments made concerted efforts to contain Ebola’s spread. In doing so, food-producing parts of the countries found themselves isolated from urban cash economies. Traders willing to maintain trading routes, or with sufficient stock, often hiked prices to capitalise on the increase in demand as people panic-bought. Stocks decreased, prices rose and the purchasing power of people decreased as income-generating activities were affected by the outbreak.
The resilience of communities and national and international aid efforts helped to mitigate the effects of these shocks, but only temporarily. There is growing evidence that the number of food-insecure people in these countries is rapidly increasing. In October 2014, a report released by Action Against Hunger and the University of Naples Federico II estimated that Ebola could make up to 700,000 additional people undernourished across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Recent estimates by the World Food Programme suggest that the number of people who could become food-insecure by March 2015 could be as high as 3 million, 1.4 million because of the effect of Ebola. If WFP’s estimates prove correct, Ebola will have doubled the number of food-insecure people in these three countries.
As new Ebola cases start to decrease – along with much of the media attention – the wider and longer-term implications for the people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are becoming increasingly clear. And the picture that is emerging is troubling. The World Bank estimates that the final economic toll from the epidemic will be over $30 billion by the end of 2015, an amount three times larger than the combined GDP of these three countries in 2013. The inability of Ebola-affected countries to single-handedly absorb the economic costs has led to high-level requests to the International Monetary Fund to cancel their debt. While the world debates the viability of that, the challenges for the average citizen are more stark: how to put food on the table.
From the Guardian, conditions declared:
Aid donors say Ebola-hit countries must direct effort to rebuild their economies
- With Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea due to present economic plans, donors do not want to dictate terms despite fears that corruption will undermine recovery
Leaders of the three west African countries worst affected by Ebola will meet donors and partners in March to discuss how to regenerate their economies.
The outbreak of the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, combined with a fall in commodity prices, has interrupted a period of growth in economies worn down by decades of war and corroded by corruption.
The countries will present recovery plans at a summit in Brussels, which will bring together representatives from the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and NGOs.
Medication news from NBC News:
Pill May Help Save Patients with Early Ebola Infections
The experimental flu drug favipiravir doesn’t help patients with advanced Ebola infections but it may help patients if they get it a little earlier, a trial from Guinea in West Africa shows.
French researchers tested the drug, made by a Japanese company, in 80 real-life Ebola patients hit in the ongoing epidemic.
The drug did not appear to help people who arrived for treatment already very ill with high levels of virus in their blood, the team at the French medical institute INSERM said. Even with treatment, 93 percent of them died. But if they weren’t already seriously ill, only 15 percent of them died.
From BBC News, an investigation broadens:
UK Ebola medics under investigation
Five UK Ebola nurses and doctors are under investigation by regulators, Public Health England says.
They are looking into the screening of medics who flew back to England on 28 December after treating patients in Sierra Leone.
On this flight was Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey – who developed Ebola – and some of her colleagues. Questions have arisen over the health assessments and protocols that were followed.
From the Asahi Shimbun, Japanese Ebolaphobia prevails:
Japan shelves SDF deployment to Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone
Facing political opposition, the Defense Ministry decided on Feb. 23 not to dispatch Ground Self-Defense Force troops to Sierra Leone for assisting international efforts to battle an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
The ministry was considering dispatching a GSDF transportation unit to be tasked with ferrying doctors and medical supplies in the western African nation, which has experienced more than 3,000 deaths from Ebola.
But opposition arose from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s inner circle, as well as the SDF, out of concerns for the risk of infection to GSDF members and possible public opposition to the deployment.
On to Sierra Leone and the latest alarm from BBC News:
Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone orphanage quarantined
An orphanage run by a UK charity in Sierra Leone has been quarantined after one of its local staff was diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus. Augustine Baker is said to be in a stable condition at a local treatment centre after becoming ill last week.
St George Foundation orphanage co-founder Philip Dean told the BBC that 33 children and seven staff were now in isolation.
“Augustine collapsed at a staff meeting and several of his colleagues helped get him to hospital,” UK-based Mr Dean told the BBC. “It’s possible that they have been exposed. It’s a very worrying time,” he said.
And a border still closed, at least for now, via Shanghai Daily:
Ebola-hit Liberia, Sierra Leone border remains closed
The Sierra Leone-Liberia border is still closed, local residents said on Monday.
Jubilant crowd who had trekked long distances from villages near the Sierra Leone-Liberia border Sunday to witness the reopening of the bridge linking the two Ebola-hit countries were disappointed because it did not take place.
Witnesses told Xinhua the Sierra Leone side of the border is still closed Monday despite meeting held Sunday between officers of the two countries at the border post.
Citizens on both sides of the bridge upon receiving information that the bridge would be reopen Sunday, embarked on a cleanup campaign to give the vicinity a face-lift.
But FrontPageAfrica has a contradictory story from the other side of the border:
One Thermometer; No Handwash Station, As Liberia Reopens Borders
Citizens of Liberia and Sierra Leone rejoiced at their respective sides of the borders as Liberian government officially opened entry points with neighboring Sierra Leone. But the goodwill on the Liberian side was not reciprocated as the Sierra Leoneans kept their side of the border closed. A Sierra Leonean soldier was seen forcibly preventing Liberians from going over into the country and warning his citizens that if they crossed over into Liberia, they might not have the chance to go back.
“As far as I’m concerned my border remains closed. I have not received orders to reopen this border,” he shouted. “We are awaiting word from Freetown that is the only way they border will reopen. Anyone who crosses this point will not enter Sierra Leone.”
Though the government of Liberia has reopened the border with Sierra Leone, there are serious binding constraints that have not yet been addressed. As the border on the Liberian side opened and people from the Sierra Leonean side tried to get in, there were no buckets or hand washing stations at the border entry for hand washing. People walked through the gates without their temperatures tested.
George J. Reeves is an officer responsible for Port Health at the Bo-Waterside crossing in Grand Cape Mount County. At a short meeting with stakeholders before the border was reopened, Reeves complained that he was not fully equipped with the right tools needed to fight Ebola at the border with Sierra Leone now that it is open.
StarAFrica covers numbers:
Liberia: 8 Ebola cases reported in three weeks-Official
Liberian Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson, has disclosed on Monday that about eight confirmed Ebola cases were reported from the 19 Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) across the country in the past three weeks.
He explained that Margibi and Montserrado Counties are now the epicenters where the new cases are being recorded. “That shows a good sign that Liberia is on the verge of getting to zero cases,” Jackson said at the Ministry of Information daily Ebola press briefing at the ministry Monday.
He however cautioned that citizens still need to desist from complacency and continue to adhere to the preventive measures outlined by health authorities to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
And a pair of videos, first on the reopening of the nation’s curfews and borders from Agence France-Presse:
Liberians rejoice as Ebola curfew is lifted
It is the early hours of the morning and bars in the Liberian capital are packed as revellers drink, sing and rejoice their first night of freedom with the Ebola curfew lifted.
And from IRIN Films, a back-to-school report:
Liberian students return amid Ebola fears
Schools in Liberia have begun to reopen for the first time in more than six months, due to the Ebola outbreak.
From StarAFrica, a quota exceeded:
Liberia: Vaccine trial exceeds estimated target – official
The co-investigator on the Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership team, Stephen Kennedy, has disclosed that in addition to the projected 600 people being targeted in the phase two clinical trials of two vaccines to prevent Ebola, a total of 120 persons are on the stand-by to be vaccinated.
Kennedy affirmed that the additional 120 persons means that the vaccine trial has exceeded its target, which signifies that the team of experts supervising the process had done exceptionally well since the lunch of the trial.
He made the statement at the Ministry of Information daily Ebola press conference held at the ministry in Monrovia on Monday.
Giving statistical details, Kennedy disclosed that 108 persons were vaccinated during the first week, while 96 persons were vaccinated during the second week.
Economic concerns from the central bank, via Heritage:
CBL Boss: Ebola has put Liberia’s economy in new territory Featured
The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. J. Mills Jones, has asserted that the Ebola virus has put Liberia’s economy in a new territory, and as such, it was necessary for a forceful action in order to restore it to normalcy.
The CBL Governor said the situation (poverty) still remains and that effort to restore Liberia’s economy cannot be overemphasized.
“That is why the Board of the CBL decided to take step to help put new life into the microfinance sector of the country, he added.
And from the Monrovia Inquirer, help promised:
China Vows To Help In Post-Ebola Recovery
The Ambassador of the Peoples’ Republic of China to Liberia, ZangYue, has announced China’s commitment to contribute meaningfully to Liberia’s post Ebola recovery program especially in medical assistance.
The Chinese Ambassador noted that China will be sending medical personnel to Liberia to help in this regard coupled with assistance to refurbish Liberia’s health delivery system.
Ambassador Yue said doctors who will be sent to Liberia will also assist in the training of medical personnel while playing a pivotal role in revamping the overwhelmed Liberian Health sector as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).