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Exclusive: Guinea says Ebola patients sent home after botched blood tests

REUTERS    by Emma Farge                                                                                      March 2, 2015

 DAKAR - Health officials botched more than 20 Ebola blood tests in January and February which led to the release of at least four positive patients, two of whom later died, Guinea's anti-Ebola coordinator and other health officials told Reuters.

Five health officials and experts familiar with the incidents said the mistakes occurred at two different treatment centers and resulted as many as 52 botched tests, exposing many others to the virus and revealing weaknesses in Guinea's response to the crisis.

Dr Sakoba Keita, Guinea's anti-Ebola coordinator, confirmed the mistake had occurred but gave lower figures. He said in an emailed response to questions that 23 patients were affected, of whom four tested positive when they were retested and two died....

 Health officials, some of whom asked not to be named because they were worried about embarrassing the Guinean government, said the mistakes took place in Coyah, where Cuban medics are supporting a government-run center, and in Conakry, where medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres runs another center at the Donka hospital complex, when staff placed blood samples in the wrong test tubes, damaging specimens.

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Violent Protests in Ebola-Hit Guinea After Imam's Arrest


An imam gives information on Ebola during Friday prayers at a mosque in Conakry, Guinea, on April 11, 2014
(AFP Photo/Cellou Binani) - Conakry, Guinea - February 10, 2015

Around a dozen Guineans were wounded Monday in clashes with police after the arrest of an imam who led funeral prayers for a suspected victim of Ebola.

Demonstrators put up barricades, burned tyres and overturned rubbish bins in the capital Conakry, before using sticks and stones to attack officers who responded with tear gas and baton charges.

"They came for the third imam of our mosque because yesterday he led the funeral prayers in the mosque here for a relative who died a natural death," a protester told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"For the Guinean authorities no one can now die a natural death. All those who die have inevitably died of Ebola," he said.

A policeman told AFP that the officers wanted simply to question the imam on the cause of death and the conditions at the burial.

"It is especially important to know that he didn't have Ebola to ensure the safety of his family and neighbours, including potential contacts," he said.

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Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

submitted by George Hurlburt - November 22, 2014
Adeline Decuyper, Alex Rutherford, Amit Wadhwa, Jean-Martin Bauer, Gautier Krings, Thoralf Gutierrez, Vincent D. Blondel, Miguel A. Luengo-Oroz
arXiv:1412.2595 [cs.CY]

Recent studies have shown the value of mobile phone data to tackle problems related to economic development and humanitarian action. In this research, we assess the suitability of indicators derived from mobile phone data as a proxy for food security indicators. We compare the measures extracted from call detail records and airtime credit purchases to the results of a nationwide household survey conducted at the same time. Results show high correlations (> .8) between mobile phone data derived indicators and several relevant food security variables such as expenditure on food or vegetable consumption. This correspondence suggests that, in the future, proxies derived from mobile phone data could be used to provide valuable up-to-date operational information on food security throughout low and middle income countries.

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

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Street Protests Loom as Shortages, Inflation and Oil Slump Hit Venezuela


Students block a street as they clash with national guards during a protest against the government in San Cristóbal on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

As President Nicolás Maduro tours the world in search of financing, the most conciliatory opposition leader says the time has come to mobilise on the streets - by Sibylla Brodzinski - January 16, 2015

Even Venezuela’s most conciliatory opposition leader has had enough.

Amid sky-high inflation, an absent president, snaking queues outside supermarkets, and plummeting oil prices, Henrique Capriles said this week that the time was ripe to try to force a change.

“We are in a state of emergency,” he said on Monday. “This is the time to mobilise in the streets.”


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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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Guarding The Ebola Border

Ivory Coast patrol guards against people crossing in from Ebola-stricken Liberia

Thieu Patrice, Tan Benjamin and village chief Gueu Denis of Gahapleu, Ivory Coast, stand on the path to Liberia.

NPR                                                                                                                            Nov. 18, 2014
By Gregory Warner
GAHAPLEU, Ivory Coast --The arrival of Ebola on the Liberian side of the border, Nimba County, with more than 100 cases, turned this border-straddling community into a security risk.

Read complete story

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Jihadi Online Chatter Discusses Using Ebola as Weapon Against the West

HOMELAND SECURITY TODAY                                                        Oct. 3, 2014

By: Anthony Kimery, Editor-in-Chief

 Jihadists and supporters of the Islamic State have stepped up discussions on jihadist social media websites about the possibility and ease of using Ebola, as well as other virulent pathogens and poisons, as weapons against the US and the West, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said Friday.

Homeland Security Today first reported on August 4 that US counterterrorism officials were concerned that African-based, Al Qaeda-tied ihadist groups might try to take advantage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by sending Ebola infected “bio-martyrs” to the US. The officials said they could be members of Al Shabaab -- who have been caught this past year trying to enter the US through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to intelligence sources -- Nigeria’s savage Boko Haram or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

... officials discussed their concerns with Homeland Security Todayat the time because, they explained, the terrorist component of a pandemic “must” be taken into any response planning consideration “because it changes the dynamics of a natural pandemic and requires considerably different planning and far more resources to deal with it,” as one explained. 

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Obama: U.S. military to provide equipment, resources to battle Ebola epidemic in Africa

- Sep 7 - The Washington Post

President Obama said Sunday that the U.S. military will begin aiding what has been a chaotic and ineffective response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, arguing that it represents a serious national security concern.

The move significantly ramps up the U.S. response and comes as the already strained military is likely to be called upon further to address militant threats in the Middle East. The decision to involve the military in providing equipment and other assistance for international health workers in Africa comes after mounting calls from some unlikely groups — most prominently the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders — demonstrating to the White House the urgency of the issue.

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UN Announces Mission to Combat Ebola, Declares Outbreak ‘Threat to Peace and Security’

18 September 2014 – The Security Council, in its first emergency meeting on a public health crisis, today declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a threat to peace and security, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that the United Nations will deploy a new emergency health mission to combat one of most horrific diseases on the planet that has shattered the lives of millions.

“This international mission, to be known as the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks,” Mr. Ban told the Security Council.

“Under the leadership of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Mission will bring together the full range of UN actors and expertise in support of national efforts,” he said, adding that details of the mission were sent in a letter to the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

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Update: Attacks on WHO Healthcare Workers in Nzerekore Region of Guinea

The flutrackers forum has been an excellent source of Ebola-related information.  Here is a summary of their updates on the attacks on WHO healthcare workers in the Nzerekore region of Guinea (see actual flutrackers posts in the link below).

Last month (in August 2014) the general market area of Nzerekore was sprayed (to disinfect) by healthcare workers during the night, without the people being informed that the spraying would be taking place.

The people of Nzerekore were angered by this action, so a riot broke out the following morning.  Since then, the people of Nzerekore have had an aversion to healthcare workers.

When the WHO healthcare workers arrived (this week) to educate the people on Ebola, they were quickly surrounded and their bodyguards were overcome by large numbers of youth from the village.  The WHO healthcare workers and the bodyguards were assaulted, and had to flee for their lives.  The number of injured and deaths from this attack has not yet been determined. Some may still be in hiding, or being held hostage.

Healthcare workers should not enter this epicenter region until an understanding with the people of the village is reached.

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