Fears grow in United States over Ebola’s spread outside West Africa

admin   •   October 10, 2014   •   3084

A sign asks patients to inform staff if they have fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or have had contact with someone who recently traveled internationally at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York October 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ADREES LATIF

(Reuters) – Fears are growing in the United States about Ebola with about 200 airline cabin cleaners walking off the job in New York and some lawmakers demanding the government ban travelers from the West African countries hit hardest by the virus.

“The nation is frightened, and people are frightened of this disease,” the U.S. cabinet secretary for health, Sylvia Burwell, said on Thursday, a day after the death in Texas of the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell told a news conference that people were frightened because Ebola “has a very high mortality rate. They’re frightened because they need to learn and understand what the facts are about that disease.”

As the government prepares to start screening passengers from West Africa for fever at five major airports over the next week, cleaners at New York’s LaGuardia Airport staged a one-day work stoppage over what they say is insufficient protection for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms. The cleaners will return to work Thursday night.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the goal was to expand airport screenings for Ebola internationally to “as many different checkpoints as possible.”

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who would suffer severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

“We are always with feces and near garbage,” Sharekul Islam, 20, whose job cleaning airplane cabins at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport regularly exposes him to the type of waste and fluids that can transmit Ebola.

Twenty-three Republican and three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking the State Department to impose a travel ban and restrict visas issued to citizens of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Oct. 8-dated letter also asked U.S. health and border control officials to consider quarantine of 21 days for anyone who arrives from the affected nations after being exposed to Ebola, the period in which they would show signs of illness.

It said the World Health Organization “is an organization of unelected bureaucrats and political appointees of foreign countries. It has no duty to protect the lives and well-being of Americans, as you do.”

WHO says nearly 4,000 people have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record, with a death toll averaging about 50 percent of cases since March. An unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed dozens.

Shares in Lakeland Industries, a maker of suits to wear while handling hazardous materials, rose more than 50 percent on Thursday on expectations of the disease spreading.

A Liberian man who flew on commercial flights from his home country on Sept. 19 and died in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday morning had had contact in Liberia with a woman who later died of the disease.

In other examples of the concern over Ebola, a sheriff’s deputy was admitted to hospital Wednesday after saying he may have been exposed to the Liberian man. The deputy tested negative for Ebola, the state health department said.

And on Wednesday, jail officials in Kenosha County, Wisconsin moved a female Immigration Customs Enforcement detainee into medical isolation after learning she was from Liberia, and despite her showing no symptoms of the virus, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Her temperature was taken twice and she was monitored by nurses, the department said.

Separately in Washington, a Republican in the U.S. Senate is still holding up most of $750 million from the Defense Department’s request to shift $1 billion in war funds to fight Ebola. Senator James Inhofe’s approval as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee is needed, although other senior Republicans said they backed the funds.

U.S. health officials, while answering questions about mistakes in the treatment of Liberian man Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas and overall preparedness for Ebola patients, have emphasized the need to tackle the virus at its source in West Africa.

“This is a fluid and heterogeneous epidemic. It is changing quickly and it’s going to be a long fight,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday at a high-level meeting of major donors at the World Bank. Frieden compared Ebola to AIDS and said, “Speed is the most important variable here. This is controllable and this was preventable.”

A Spanish nurse is in serious condition in Madrid with Ebola after treating a priest who was repatriated from West Africa and died of the disease, the first reported transmission outside of the region. A British man suspected of contracting the virus died in Macedonia, a government official said on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Sebastien Malo in New York, David Morgan, Lesley Wroughton and David Lawder in Washington, Richard Valdmanis and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Peter Henderson)

Liberia coronavirus lockdown off to chaotic start

UNTV News   •   April 13, 2020

A coronavirus lockdown in Liberia’s capital Monrovia got off to a chaotic start on Saturday (April 11), as some police officers used truncheons against residents who had ventured out into the streets to buy food and withdraw money.

Confusion reigned across much of Monrovia, a city of more than 1 million people, with many having heard, erroneously, via social media that the government had ordered a 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew rather than a full lockdown.

Many residents voiced anger at President George Weah’s order, which they said would do more harm than good in a country where more than half the population lives in poverty.

“Corona is not going to kill many people. It is hunger that will kill many Liberians,” said Jettroy Kolleh, a student, as he stood outside a bank in Monrovia where dozens of people had queued in close proximity to withdraw money.

The three-week lockdown is a test of the Liberian authorities’ vows to improve on their handling of a quarantine of a Monrovia slum during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, which sparked riots by residents lacking food and water.

Reuters TV footage from Saturday showed police patrolling in riot gear and pursuing people in the streets with truncheons. At the Red Light market, one of the city’s busiest, an excavator truck destroyed most of the informal market stalls, where people had earlier congregated.

A police spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Roland Weah, the commissioner of the West Point neighbourhood, where police opened fire during the Ebola outbreak to enforce a quarantine, said authorities were working closely with communities to avoid a repeat.

As the virus’ spread accelerates in Africa, with more than 13,000 cases now reported across the continent, some countries have ordered full lockdowns, while others have imposed curfews or more limited restrictions in an effort to limit the impact on people who live hand to mouth from the informal economy.

Rights activists in several countries have reported instances of brutality by police enforcing lockdowns or curfews.

Liberia has so far confirmed at least 48 cases of the coronavirus, including five deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Derrick Snyder, Yvonne Bell, Paul Warren, Bharati Naik)

Last Congo Ebola patient discharged with end of outbreak in sight

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

The last patient being treated for Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday (March 3), the World Health Organization (WHO) said, bringing the 19-month-old outbreak closer than ever to an end.

Masika Semida’s release from hospital in the eastern city of Beni, feted by hospital staff who sang, danced and drummed, marks the first time there has been no active cases since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

In that period, the virus has killed 2,264 people and infected nearly 1,200 more, making it the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history. Only the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa was deadlier, killing more than 11,000.

Congo has now gone 14 days without any new confirmed cases. The outbreak can be declared over once 42 days have passed without a new case – equivalent to two cycles of 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Edwin Waita, Erikas Mwisi, Louisa Naks)

Trial drug for 2019 nCoV now ready to be administered to over 700 patients

Maris Federez   •   February 7, 2020

China’s health authorities have announced that registration for clinical trials on a potential antiviral drug for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been approved.

The antiviral drug called “Remdesivir” will be made available to the more than 700 patients that tested positive of the 2019 nCoV in Wuhan City, China for its clinical trial.

Authorities said that aside from the 2019 nCoV, the drug can also be used to fight Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and even Ebola infection.

Remdesivir was developed by the American pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Health Commission, and the National Medical Products Administration support the approval of the said drug. —(details from Grace Casin) /mbmf

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