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Liberia closes Ebola centre at epicentre of outbreak

AFP                                                                                                         Jan. 27, 2015

Monrovia  - Liberia's president on Monday announced the closure of an Ebola treatment facility which lay at the epicentre of the virus's worst outbreak in history, as the disease's spread has slowed in the country.


Red cross workers, wearing masks, carry the body of a person who died from Ebola during a burial with relatives of the victims of the virus, in Monrovia, on January 5, 2015 (AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned Liberians that while they could not yet afford to relax, the country had made significant progress in the fight against Ebola, and thanked states who helped Monrovia combat the virus.

"Lofa, the epicentre of the virus, has had no new cases for over 70 days," she said in the speech at the national parliament.

"The Ebola Treatment Unit in Foya is closed," she said, referring to an area in the north of the country near its border with Guinea, where the virus hit Liberia for the first time.

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Scientists ask if Ebola immunizes as well as kills

LONDON/DAKAR--A recent sharp drop in new Ebola infections in West Africa is prompting scientists to wonder whether the virus may be silently immunizing some people at the same time as brutally killing their neighbors.

A health worker disinfects a road in the Paynesville neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia, January 21, 2015. Credit: Reuters/James Giahyue

So-called "asymptomatic" Ebola cases - in which someone is exposed to the virus, develops antibodies, but doesn't get sick or suffer symptoms - are hotly disputed among scientists, with some saying their existence is little more than a pipe dream.

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Post-Ebola plan needed to avert 'double disaster' in West Africa: Oxfam

REUTERS   by Magdalena Mis                                                                             Jan. 26, 2015

LONDON -- The three West African countries worst hit by Ebola risk a "double disaster" unless a multi-million dollar plan is put in place to help their economies recover, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone people were struggling to make ends meet having seen their incomes plummet, the aid agency said.

"The world was late in waking up to the Ebola crisis, there can be no excuses for not helping to put these economies and lives back together," Mark Goldring, Oxfam's chief executive, said during a visit to Liberia.

He said a post-Ebola "Marshall Plan" should address three areas of urgent need: cash for families affected by the crisis, investment in jobs and support for basic services.

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After Ebola: Why Rural Development Matters in a Time of Crisis

COMMENTARY:  HUFFINGTON POST  by President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)                                                                                                                                 Jan. 26, 2015

....Now we must begin to look at what happens to the affected communities after Ebola. A food crisis seems increasingly likely to follow in the wake of the epidemic, which has devastated small-scale farmers. Without investment in their long-term development, farming households - and West Africa's future food security - will remain at risk.

Even before the outbreak, the World Food Programme estimated that some 1.7 million people in the region faced food insecurity - defined as a lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. As a direct result of Ebola, it is expected that an additional 750,000 to 1.4 million people will become food-insecure by March.

In fact, Ebola has already affected the food supply. Farmers have stayed away from their fields due to illness, fears of infection and quarantines ordered by the authorities - or simply because there is no one left to tend the land....

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Senegal reopens land border with Ebola-hit Guinea

REUTERS                                                                                                        Jan. 26, 2015

DAKAR --Senegal reopened on Monday its land border with Guinea, the Interior Ministry said, five months after closing transport links in August to prevent the spread of the worst outbreak on record of the deadly Ebola virus.

A billboard with a message about Ebola is seen on a street in Conakry, Guinea October 26, 2014.Credit: Reuters/Michelle Nichols

Senegal had already lifted in November a ban on air and maritime traffic with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the three countries worst-affected by the epidemic of the deadly hemorrhagic fever....

"The decision to open the border follows meetings between Senegalese and Guinean authorities, in the course of which the important efforts made by the sister republic of Guinea to fight the Ebola virus were noted," said a ministry statement.

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Guinea's Grand Imam Pulls No Punches In His Ebola Message

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO by Ofeiba Quist-Arcton                                                      Jan. 26, 2015

"Ebola — you have to do more," roars the barrel-bellied cleric El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, with his white beard and mustache, in a snow-white boubou, the traditional flowing gown of West Africa.


Guinea's Grand Imam, El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, tells his fellow clerics: "If there is any doubt at all, then no one must touch the body."Kevin Leahy /NPR

That's the message he delivered over the weekend to hundreds of his fellow clerics, who gathered in Kindia, the third largest city in Guinea and a major crossroads. Many of the residents still blame Westerners for bringing the virus to their country.

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Studies detail Ebola spread, response steps

Four new studies shed new light on Ebola transmission and countermeasures.

CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE FOR RESEARCH AND POLICY  by Lisa Schnirring                                        Jan. 23, 2015

French and Guinean researchers  noted how chains of transmission helped Ebola spread in Conakry, Guinea, the first of the region's capital cities to be hit by the virus, and US officials released three detailed reports on outbreak response.

The Conakry team looked at seven transmission chains that occurred in the area from March to August 2014. They reported their findings in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

In the first of three reports Friday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), extra flight contact tracing measures undertaken after a Texas nurse took two flights shortly before getting sick with Ebola in October identified 268 people from nine states, none of whom got sick with the virus

In the second report, CDC estimates on the impact of Ebola treatment units (ETUs) and community care centers (CCCs) in Liberia predict that the interventions prevented thousands of new infections and that the interventions when used together were likely had a bigger impact than either alone.

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Ebola: Decline encouraging, but critical gaps remain


MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES                                                                         Jan. 26, 2015

A downward trend of new cases is reported in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ebola management centres across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with just over 50 patients currently in its eight centres. While this is a promising development, the medical-humanitarian organisation cautions that loss of vigilance now would jeopardise the progress made in stemming the epidemic.

“This decline is an opportunity to focus efforts on addressing the serious weaknesses that remain in the response,” says Brice de la Vingne, MSF Director of Operations.  “We are on the right track, but reaching zero cases will be difficult unless significant improvements are made in alerting new cases and tracing those who have been in contact with them.”

The World Health Organization reported last week that only about half of new cases in both Guinea and Liberia are from known Ebola contacts, while in Sierra Leone there is no data available.  “A single new case is enough to reignite an outbreak,” continues de la Vingne. “Until everyone who has come into contact with Ebola has been identified, we cannot rest easy.”

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USAID broadens effort to correct Ebola misinformation in Liberia

DEVEX   by Molly Anders                                                                                   Jan. 26, 2015

In the scramble to reach the most remote residents of Ebola-hit Liberia, the U.S. Agency for International Development has signed on Mercy Corps, Finnish Church Aid and many other organizations to spread information about the disease to the country’s farthest-flung areas, and to correct misinformation along the way.


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Report by the Director-General to the Special Session of the Executive Board on Ebola


Statement by Dr. Margaret, Director-General of the World Health Organization to a Special Session of the Executive Board on Ebola

WHO PRESS OFFICE, Geneva                                                                                       Jan. 25, 2015


"The Ebola outbreak points to the need for urgent change in three main areas: to rebuild and strengthen national and international emergency preparedness and response, to address the way new medical products are brought to market, and to strengthen the way WHO operates during emergencies."

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