International Bandits in Guinea Steal Suspected Ebola Blood

ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                    Nov. 21, 2014
By Boubacar Diallo

CONAKRY, Guinea — It was a highway robbery but the bandits got more than they bargained for when they stopped a taxi van in Guinea and made off with blood samples that are believed to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

Authorities publicly appealed on national radio Friday to the unidentified robbers to hand over the samples that were stolen from the minibus taxi during its 265-kilometer (165-mile) trek from central Kankan prefecture to a test site in southern Gueckedou.

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Six months after Ebola appeared, Sierra Leone still lacks beds for patients

WASHINGTON POST                                                                                                            Nov. 21, 2014
by Kevin Sieff
FREETOWN,Sierra Leone
...while bed space expanded in Liberia’s capital, it did not  here. Pledges were made to build new treatment centers, but many were delayed — sometimes because of logistical challenges. Some aid groups canceled their plans altogether, unable to deliver on their commitments. The closest treatment center with consistently available beds is eight hours from Freetown.

“We thought we would have all these beds coming on line, but it didn’t happen when we needed them,” said Winnie Romeril,
a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. “Everyone knew the problem here was going to get bigger.”

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Ebola Spread Has Slowed in Liberia, C.D.C. Says

NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                         Nov. 21, 2014

By Helene Cooper

...Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director,  says “there is no longer exponential increase, and in fact, there’s been a decrease” in the rate of Ebola infections in Liberia...

A security guard in West Point, a densely populated neighborhood of Monrovia, the Liberian capital, in September. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

His comments to reporters came a day after the Pentagon said it was scaling back the size and number of Ebola treatment facilities that American troops are building in Liberia. Defense officials said that instead of building 17 units, as promised by President Obama, the military would build 10 treatment facilities, and that seven of them would have 50 beds each, rather than the 100 beds previously planned.

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Researchers Develop Real-Time Monitoring for Ebola Outbreaks

VOICE OF AMERICA                                                                                                        Nov. 20, 2014
By Joe DeCapua
Knowing where the Ebola hot spots are in a country is crucial to getting an outbreak quickly under control. Many have criticized the initial slow response to the West Africa outbreak, saying it’s a big reason the virus quickly spread. Now, a German research center is developing a project to monitor Ebola and other outbreaks in real time.

Professor Gérard Krause said the new project – called EBOKON – uses real-time monitoring to better manage an outbreak.Krause is head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research – and EBOKON project leader for the German Center for Infection Research....

He said, “This is an information technology tool that we are developing together with colleagues from Nigeria that will take care of all those management aspects.”

The EBOKON project calls for setting up a command center, so to speak, in the capital of affected countries. Then health workers would use cellphones to relay in real time information on suspected cases around the country.

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Ebola Crisis Deepens in Mali

ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                                                                   Nov. 20, 2014

By Baba Ahmed                          

BAMAKO, Mali  — Mali's emerging Ebola crisis deepened Thursday as the government announced that a doctor had died from the disease, becoming the second health worker fatality linked to a single patient initially thought to have kidney disease.

Health care workers at a screening center for the Ebola virus on Monday await patients at the border village of Kouremale, Mali, between Mali and Guinea.

At least five people now have died from Ebola after coming into contact with a 70-year-old grand imam, who was brought to the Malian capital of Bamako from Guinea, the bordering country where the regional Ebola epidemic first began.

The death of a 25-year-old male nurse at Clinique Pasteur who treated the imam first prompted health authorities to review past patients. ...Malian authorities are now following more than 300 people, including those who helped prepare the imam's body for burial after he succumbed to the disease.

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Ebola becomes latest stock scam, U.S. SEC says

REUTERS                                                                                                 NOV. 20, 2014
By Sarah N. Lynch

U.S. regulators on Thursday suspended trading in four small over-the-counter stocks of companies that they said have been touting the development of products to prevent or treat the Ebola virus, and warned investors to beware of similar scams.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it had suspended trading in the shares of New York-based Bravo Enterprises Ltd, California-based Immunotech Laboratories Inc, Canada-based Myriad Interactive Media Inc and Wholehealth Products Inc, which is also located in California.

The SEC also issued a warning that "con artists" may be soliciting investors and claiming to be developing treatments or medicine to prevent the deadly virus.

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U.S. to allow people from nations hit by Ebola to stay temporarily

REUTERS                                                                                                                      Nov. 20, 2014
By Julia Edwards

WASHINGTON-- The Department of Homeland Security will grant temporary protected status to people from the three West African countries most affected by Ebola who are currently residing in the United States, department officials said on Thursday.

A U.S. Coast Guard Corpsman working with the Office of Field Operations checks the temperature of a traveler who has recently traveled to either Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia in this handout picture from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection taken at Washington Dulles International Airport October 16, 2014.Credit: Reuters/U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Josh Denmark/Handout via Reuters

People from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in the United States as of Thursday may apply for protection from deportation, as well as for work permits, for 18 months, said a Department of Homeland Security official.

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Liberian president hopes to defeat Ebola by Christmas

USA TODAY                                                       Nov. 20, 2014

by Greg Zoroya

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared Wednesday that her nation is turning the tide against the deadly Ebola virus, and "we want to have zero cases by Christmas."

"It's a tall order. We're trying to work at that," Johnson Sirleaf said in an interview with USA TODAY. "We like to say that Ebola was running after us two months ago. Today, we are running after Ebola."

The World Health Organization released figures Wednesday showing that nearly 3,000 Liberians have died from Ebola since the virus first flared in a northern county last spring before exploding into the capital in June and July. The country has had more cases and deaths than any other.

As assistance from aid groups, the United Nations and the United States flooded into the country, the rate of infection and death declined dramatically in recent weeks... The number of daily Ebola infections in Liberia has declined from nearly 100 a day in September to about 25.

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Ebola response in Liberia is hampered by infighting

NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                      Nov. 20, 2014
By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

The global response to the Ebola virus in Liberia is being hampered by poor coordination and serious disagreements between Liberian officials and the donors and health agencies fighting the epidemic, according to minutes of top-level meetings and interviews with participants. Medical workers handling a blood sample of an Ebola victim as the girl, 9, lay in a shawl in Monrovia, Liberia. She later died. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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Markey and Portman Introduce Legislation to Fund Domestic “Ebola Treatment Hubs”

OFFICE OF SENATOR MARKEY                                                                                               Nov. 19, 2014

 WASHINGTON – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today introduced legislation to allocate funds to support the establishment of regional designated hospitals that can provide specialized care for Ebola patients in an isolated setting. Currently, there are only four hospitals with bio-containment facilities in the United States, and those locations have a total of 11 beds that can be used at any one time for Ebola patients or others with infectious diseases that require isolation.

“The Ebola outbreak exposed serious vulnerabilities in our national public health preparedness and it is critical that hospitals are sufficiently trained, staffed, and prepared to provide the specialized treatment for Ebola patients while also protecting themselves” said Senator Markey. “The creation of these designated Ebola treatment centers will improve our ability to treat any future domestic Ebola cases and help ensure our hospitals are prepared for the next highly infectious disease outbreak.”

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Ebola Spreading Intensely In Sierra Leone As Death Toll Rises: WHO

WHO status reports on West Africa
(Two items. Scroll down)

REUTERS                                                                                                                      Nov. 19, 2014

By Stephanie Nebehay
 GENEVA - The toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 5,420 deaths out of 15,145 cases in eight countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, with transmission of the deadly virus still "intense and widespread" in Sierra Leone.

The figures, through Nov. 16, represent a jump of 243 deaths and 732 cases since those issued last Friday, and cases continue to be under-reported, the WHO said in its latest update.

Sierra Leone, a former British colony, confirmed 533 new cases in the week to Nov. 16, it said, accounting for much of the increase. It also reported 63 deaths since last Friday.

"Much of this was driven by intense transmission in the country's west and north," the WHO said.

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WHO plans to speed development of Ebola rapid test

By Lisa Schnirring                                               Nov.18, 2014

Quicker and simpler diagnostic tests for Ebola could go a long way in helping break chains of disease transmission in West Africa's outbreak region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, as it unveiled two new initiatives to expedite their development.

The WHO said it hopes new efforts—similar to those under way to test and deliver an Ebola vaccine—can compress the development of a rapid test in months instead of years.

A Navy worker extracts RNA from a patient sample at a Naval mobile lab in Liberia. US Army Africa

Standard reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests used in mobile and other labs in the outbreak are very accurate when conducted by trained staff, but they require a full tube of blood, take 2 to 6 hours to get a result, and costs around $100 per test, the WHO said today in a statement....

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Queen Fears Ebola Push at Expense of Other Killer Diseases

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Ebola's impact on Africa economy might be less than feared

REUTERS                                                                                                                             nOV. 19, 2014         
By Joe Brock
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The cost of the Ebola epidemic for Sub-Saharan Africa's economy is likely to be closer to $3 billion-$4 billion and not the worst-case scenario of $32 billion, the World Bank's chief economist for the continent said on Wednesday.

Francisco Ferreira said at a lecture in Johannesburg that successful containment of Ebola in some West African countries made the gloomiest forecasts less likely, but the economic damage could still escalate if there was any complacency.

"The risk of the highest case of economic impact of Ebola has been reduced because of the success of containment in some countries. It has not gone to zero because a great level of preparedness and focus is still needed," Ferreira said.

"I would say the outlook has moved closer to the lower case of $3-$4 billion, than the upper case," he said.

In a report in October, the World Bank said that if the Ebola epidemic spread significantly outside the epicentre states of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the potential cost for Africa in disrupted cross-border trade, supply chains and tourism could amount to tens of billions of dollars.

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West African Mining Projects Take Hit From Ebola Crisis

Epidemic Delays Rollout of Jobs Meant for Residents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

WALL STREET JOURNAL                                                                                             Nov. 19, 2014
By Patrick McGroarty in Liberia, David Gauthier-Villars in Guinea
and Alex MacDonald in London

...a promising corner of the global economic frontier is pocked with stalled mining projects. The Ebola epidemic has scared off ships and planes; prompted expatriates to abandon their posts; and delayed the rollout of thousands of jobs meant for residents of the three poor West African countries hardest hit by the virus: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A three-story steel shiploader at ArcelorMittal’s port in the Liberian city of Buchanan is part of a $1.7 billion expansion delayed by Ebola. Patrick McGroarty/The Wall Street Journal

“All the projects are at a standstill,” said Mr. Foulah, chief executive of the mining-explosives firm ECP Guinée.

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