Tropical Cyclone Pam - Category 5 - Slams Vanuatu

Guinea shuts border with Sierra Leone in effort to end Ebola

ASSOCIATED PRESS by BOUBACAR DIALLO               March 30, 2015

CONKAKRY --Guinea closed its border with Sierra Leone on Monday as part of new efforts to stamp out Ebola, an official said.

... the disease remains stubbornly entrenched in Guinea more than a year after the outbreak started and authorities are now ramping up efforts to eliminate the disease.

Guinean President Alpha Conde announced this weekend that emergency measures would be "reinforced" for a 45-day period in five districts, including some along the border with Sierra Leone. The decision to close the border was made in the context of those new measures, according to Cmdr. Mamadou Alpha Barry, spokesman for the national gendarmerie.

Previously, Guinean authorities had monitored people crossing into the country for symptoms of the disease.

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article16925942.html

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Liberia Ebola Survivors Complain About Lack of Support

VOICE OF AMERICA by Benno Muchler                          March 30, 015
MONROVIA—For Liberian survivors of Ebola, the struggle is not over.  Many have lost property and family members, and often face tremendous stigma after being released from the hospital. Unresolved medical issues are another problem.  Despite their suffering, they are still waiting for support a year into the Ebola crisis.

People shun them.  Landlords terminate their leases.  Some lost their jobs.  Many survivors also suffer from headaches and eye problems.  Doctors do not know yet if these Ebola side effects are only temporary.

To make their voices heard, survivors formed a network under the umbrella of Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare last September.

Korlia Bonarwolo was part of that, but then broke away and formed his own group. He said that after months without support, it seemed to him the government only used survivors to attract foreign aid.

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The End of Ebola? Lessons at the Epidemic's One Year Anniversary

Columbia University                                            March 30, 2015

One year ago, the current Ebola epidemic was announced to the world. Since then, we have learned and accomplished an enormous amount....

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Sierra Leone’s 3-Day Ebola Lockdown is Over

Sierra Leone Ebola lockdown exposes hundreds of suspected cases

REUTERS                                                                                                      March 30, 015

(Scroll down for earlier story.)

FREETOWN - A three-day lockdown in Sierra Leone has exposed hundreds of potential new cases of Ebola, aiding efforts to bring to an end an epidemic that has already killed 3,000 people in the country.

Officials ordered the country's 6 million residents to stay indoors or face arrest during the period that ended late on Sunday as hundreds of health officials went door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the virus.

Reports to authorities of sick people increased by 191 percent in Western Area, which includes the capital, during the lockdown compared with the previous weekend, said Obi Sesay of the National Ebola Response Center.

"Tests are being carried out on their blood samples, and the results will be in by Wednesday," Sesay said, adding that 173 of the patients in Freetown met an initial case definition for Ebola.

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Ebola rapid diagnostic kit developed by UK scientists in Sierra Leone

Doctors says the kit, if approved by health authorities, could transform the admissions process with its capacity to deliver results within 20 minutes

THE GUARDIAN    by Lisa O'Carroll                              March 29, 2015

A rapid Ebola diagnostic kit similar to a pregnancy kit has been developed by British military scientists and NHS medics in Sierra Leone.

Health care workers prepare to entering a high risk zone at an Ebola virus clinic in Sierra Leone, where the diagnostic kit has been undergoing tests. Photograph: Michael Duff/AP

It can be administered at the bedside and return its first results within 20 minutes, slashing dramatically the normal 24-hour turnaround for lab results.

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Costa Rica Powered Entirely by Renewables So Far This Year

The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Image: The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock

ecowatch.com - March 23rd 2015 - Tierney Smith

For the last 82 days, Costa Rica has powered itself using only renewable energy sources

That means the Latin American country hasn’t had to use fossil fuels at all so far in 2015.

Last week, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced that 100 percent of the country’s electricity came from renewables for the first 75 days of the year, as heavy rains boosted the country’s hydroelectric power plants.

(VIEW COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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Home> Health Guinea Deploys Police as Sierra Leoneans Flee Ebola Lockdown

ASSOCIATED PRESS  By CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY AND BOUBACAR DIALLO                  March 28, 2015

FREETOWN, Sierre Leone --Guinea has deployed security forces to the country's southwest in response to reports that Sierra Leoneans are crossing the border to flee an Ebola lockdown intended to stamp out the deadly disease, an official said Saturday.

A team of Sierra Leone health workers walk as they look for people suffering from Ebola virus symptoms or people they can educate about the virus as their country enters a three day country wide lockdown on movement of people due to the Ebola virus in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Friday, March. 27, 2015. Sierra Leone's 6 million people were told to stay home for three days, except for religious services, beginning Friday as the West African nation attempted a final push to rid itself of Ebola. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff) Close The Associated Press

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Liberia Recommends Ebola Survivors Practice Safe Sex Indefinitely

THE NEW YORK TIMES  by Sheri Fink                                                                          March 29, 2015

The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen. Previously, male survivors were advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or to use condoms for three months, reflecting that the active virus had been detected for up to 82 days in semen.

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Guinea president announces new emergency measures in Ebola fight

REUTERS                                                 March 28, 2015

CONAKRY - Guinea's President Alpha Conde announced on Saturday new emergency measures enabling authorities to restrict movements in western Guinea where Ebola transmission continues a year after the epidemic was declared.

More than 10,300 people have died from Ebola in West Africa and while cases are thought to have peaked, Guinea is struggling to stamp out the virus partly due to often violent resistance to officials working to end it.

Following a dip in new cases in January, they have spiked again since early March in and around the capital, prompting officials to announce a new phase of the epidemic in Guinea.

"I declare in the districts of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia a reinforcement of emergency measures for a period of 45 days," Conde said on state television late on Saturday.

Read complete story.

http://news.yahoo.com/guinea-president-announces-emergency-measures-ebola-fight-230310066.html

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Police fire tear gas on crowd during Sierra Leone Ebola lockdown

REUTERS by Josephus Olu-Mammah and Umaru Fofana                                                              March 28, 2015
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --Police fired tear gas at an angry crowd in Sierra Leone on Saturday after they threw stones at officials during a three-day national lockdown that the government hopes will accelerate the end of the Ebola epidemic, residents said.

Sierra Leone has reported nearly 12,000 Ebola cases and more than 3,000 deaths since the worst epidemic in history was detected in neighbouring Guinea a year ago. New cases have fallen sharply since a peak of more than 500 a week in December but the government says the lockdown, its second, is necessary to identify the last cases and to buck a worrying trend towards complacency.

Officials have ordered the six million residents to stay inside on pain of arrest as hundreds of health official go door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the haemorrhagic fever.

Hundreds of people left their homes in the Devil Hole neighbourhood outside the capital to gather at a food collection point. Some residents complained they had not received food and fighting broke out until police arrived to scatter the crowd.

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Combatting Rumors About Ebola: SMS Done Right

When misinformation is a case of life or death, aid workers and communities need an ear to the ground

INTERNEWS   by  Anahi Ayala Iacucci                                                March 26, 2015

 What is now clear to healthcare organizations working on the ground in West Africa is that the Ebola epidemic has been driven as much by misinformation and rumors as by weaknesses in the health system. It is common sense that information is a critical element in combatting disease, particularly when contagion from common social practices, such as bathing the corpses of the deceased, were central to so much of the early spread of the disease. But in the context of a massive disease outbreak, when hundreds of international organizations and billions of dollars flood into a region whose fragile infrastructure has been damaged by years of civil war, information dissemination becomes a powerful challenge.

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The State of Vaccine Confidence

The Vaccine Confidence Project    2015
LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE 

Lead Authors:  Heidi Larson, PhD and Will Schulz, MPH
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Aid workers racing to defeat Ebola before the rains come

USA TODAY  by Samwar Fallah and Gregg Zoroya                                              March 28, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Aid workers are rushing into neighboring Guinea to try to stanch a worrisome rise in cases of the deadly Ebola virus, which has been slowed in Sierra Leone and been all but eradicated here.

A man crouches next to the grave of an unknown man (L) at the National Memorial Cemetry on Disco Hill, Margibi County, Liberia, 11 March 2015. The cemetery was established to provide a dignified burial for ebola victims and bring an end to the usual cremation of victims during the outbreak. Liberia on 11 March observed a National Memorial Day to remember, honour, and decorate the graves of the dead. The government of Liberia on 05 March discharged the last ebola patient, thus raising the hopes of the end of the epidemic. EPA/AHMED JALLANZO ORG XMIT: MON107(Photo: AHMED JALLANZO, EPA)

The mission is urgent because the coming rainy season could hamper travel to remote villages where the disease continues to emerge.

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Ebola crisis points to wider global threat on a par with al-Qaida, warns UK medic

THE GUARDIAN by Lisa O'Carroll                                                           March 27, 2015

Ebola should be seen as an early wake-up call to world leaders of the potential for an international health disaster in the same way that the 1998 US embassy bombings highlighted the possibility of further attacks by al-Qaida, a leading British medic in Sierra Leone has warned.

Dr Oliver Johnson has called for “a big political shakeup” at the World Health Organisation and says Britain’s Department for International Development must decide whether to “nationalise” aid and deploy the army the next time a humanitarian emergency hits.

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