Mali quarantines dozens as second Ebola outbreak spreads in country

November 2014MALI - More than 90 people including U.N. peacekeepers were quarantined across Mali’s capital on Wednesday after a 25-year-old nurse died of Ebola having treated a Guinea man who succumbed with Ebola-like symptoms that were not recognized. The man, a Muslim imam from the border town of Kouremale, was never tested for Ebola. In a series of rites that may have exposed many mourners to the deadly virus, his highly contagious body was washed in a Bamako mosque and returned to Guinea for burial without precautions against Ebola. The World Health Organization said there were now four confirmed and probable Ebola deaths in Mali, adding that one was a friend who had visited the imam in hospital. The group did not give immediate details of the fourth case. A doctor at the Pasteur Clinic where the nurse worked – one of Bamako’s top medical centers and the default clinic for expatriates – is also suspected to have contracted Ebola and is being monitored. About 20 U.N. peacekeepers who were at the clinic for injuries sustained while serving in the turbulent north of Mali were quarantined as a precaution, the U.N. mission said, without specifying their nationalities. Mali, the sixth West African nation to record Ebola during the world’s worst ever outbreak of the disease, must now trace a new batch of contacts just as an initial group of people linked to its first and only other case – a two-year-old girl who died last month – completed their 21-day quarantine on Tuesday.
The locations quarantined in Bamako, a mining and humanitarian hub with a population of nearly 2 million, include the clinic, the mosque where the imam’s body was washed and the houses where the nurse lived and the imam stayed. Concern is growing at the time it took between the imam dying and the steps needed to contain the deadly disease being put in place. Dr. Samba Sow, head of Mali’s Ebola response, said the imam died on Oct. 27, two days after going to the clinic. “This case shows the lack of training of doctors in Bamako. This training should have been done six months ago,” one aid worker told Reuters, asking not to be named. The government said on Wednesday that the nurse was confirmed with Ebola on Tuesday and died later that evening. All necessary steps to identify people who had come into contact with the nurse had been taken, it said. Ousmane Doumbia, secretary general of the health ministry, said more than 90 people had been quarantined. The clinic was locked down by police on Tuesday night. Mali shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Guinea, which alongside Liberia and Sierra Leone has been worst affected by an Ebola outbreak that has killed 5,147 people this year. –Reuters
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4.8 magnitude earthquake shakes up residents in Kansas and Oklahoma

Kansas 4.8 November 12, 2014
November 2014CONWAY SPRINGS, KansasA large earthquake that originated in Kansas was felt by residents across Oklahoma, Wednesday afternoon. The 4.8 magnitude temblor rumbled at 3:40 p.m., eight miles to the south of Conway Springs, Kansas, or about 124 miles north of the Oklahoma City metro, at a depth of three miles. Several viewers called and wrote in to News 9 reporting to have felt the quake, some even as far south as Norman, Okla. So far there have been no reports of damage or injuries related to this earthquake. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 2.5 to 3.0 are generally the smallest ones felt by humans. Damage is more likely with earthquakes at magnitudes 4.0 and higher. –News
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What case drop? Ebola finds new hotspots outside Liberian capital – ‘everybody could die in this town’

November 2014LIBERIA - A schoolteacher brought his sick daughter from Liberia’s capital to this small town of 300 people. Soon he and his entire family were dead and buried in the forest nearby, along with an increasing number of residents. The community of Jenewonde has become a new hotspot for the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. With cases on the decline in the capital, officials must now turn their attention to hard-to-reach places where the disease is flaring. Jenewonde, in Grand Cape Mount County near the border with Sierra Leone, has reportedly lost about 10 percent of its population to Ebola since late September. Markets and farms nearby have been abandoned. Momo Sheriff, who lost his son to Ebola, said there is no health care in the community. No clinics could be seen along the road into town. “If the government does not take action, everybody will die in this town,” Sheriff told an Associated Press journalist. “We are burying two dead bodies today. We don’t know who it will be tomorrow. Every day we have to cry.” Juma Mansaray lost her mother and grandmother on the same day. She said the community has been ostracized from neighboring ones. “Everywhere we go, the people will drive us away,” she said. “We can’t even go to the local market to buy pepper or food because people think we are cursed.”
Ebola is also hitting the town of Gorzohn in Rivercess County, which lies on Liberia’s central coast, said Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, who heads Liberia’s Ebola response. The international response must adapt to this new phase, Doctors Without Borders warned. As Jenewonde saw, just one case can ignite a chain of transmission that leads to a dozen more infections, said Fasil Tezera, head of operations for the charity in Liberia. Liberia has suffered the greatest death toll in the Ebola epidemic, with 2,766 deaths blamed on the first-ever Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The World Health Organization says that after months of aggressive efforts to isolate the sick and remove bodies of victims safely, Ebola appears to be declining in some parts of Liberia, including the capital where only about 50 of the 250 beds are filled at a Doctors Without Borders clinic. “In the cities, I think we have sufficient resources,” Tezera said. “We cannot bring everybody to big ETU’s,” or Ebola treatment units. The outbreak now also needs a series of “rapid response teams” that can bring care to remote villages, rather than trying to get sick people out, the group says. Such teams would include medics, disinfection specialists and psychologists or social workers and could stamp out a budding outbreak in a village before it has a chance to spread. And they could work much faster than a treatment center can be built.
Tezera said that such mobile teams were frequently deployed in previous Ebola outbreaks, which typically hit remote areas of central or eastern Africa. The teams could travel by truck, boat or helicopter, if those assets are provided. “If you handle it at the small village level, then you can contain it,” he said. Experts warn that the disease could flare again in Monrovia or other places where it seems to have subsided. As long as Ebola is circulating in this highly mobile region, no area is safe, said Tezera, and cases continue to rise in Guinea and Sierra Leone. There were 40 new Ebola cases in and around the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown in the preceding 24 hours, authorities there said late Sunday. –ABC News
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The number of Ebola cases rise sharply in Sierra Leone

November 2014SIERRA LEONEThe number of new cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone has jumped dramatically, putting paid to any hopes that the infection rate is slowing. Official figures released by the minister of health and sanitation show there were 111 new cases registered on Sunday, the highest daily rate since the ministry started publishing figures in August. There were 45 new cases the day before, including 24 in the capital, Freetown. Laboratory results for patients in Freetown, which include the new British army-built Ebola hospital, showed 40 new cases on Sunday. There was also a spike in the number of cases in Port Loko, a district north of Freetown where there is still no treatment centre and where, until recently, corpses were left lying on verandahs, in hospitals and in houses for days before collection. The figures come days after warnings by the UN that Ebola cases in Sierra Leone are being underreported by up to 50%. It is thought that some patients are still not turning up to hospital over fears that they will be turned away because there are no beds or that they will die isolated from their families. Sierra Leone’s deadliest day was 5 October, when 121 deaths were recorded from Ebola. Daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre for that day showed 81 new cases of the virus, fewer than those registered on Sunday.
With 596 confirmed cases and still no treatment centre, the rise in the number of cases in Port Loko will cause deep concern among medical aid agencies such as Médecins sans Frontières, International Medical Corps and the Red Cross, who have been pleading for more beds and resources since the beginning of August. The latest figures make Port Loko the third most affected of the 14 districts in the country. IMC is constructing an 100-bed treatment centre in Port Loko but it will not be open until the end of November, by which time the World Health Organization has warned there may be a need for more than 4,000 beds across the country, which has fewer than 500 at the moment. In the district of Koinadugu, where an infection chain started three weeks ago when a man carrying the virus returned to the remote chiefdom of Niene, the Red Cross on Monday said the number of dead had increased in recent days. Last week it reported that as many as 30 had died, but the number is now closer to 50, a spokesman in Freetown said. Koinadugu had prided itself on being the only district in Sierra Leone to have been Ebola-free after local chiefs imposed quarantine, barring farmers and traders travelling to neighboring districts or over the border to Guinea. –Guardian
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Reality Check: China to double production of Ebola hazmat suits to 6,000 a day

November 2014BEIJINGA Chinese factory in Shandong Province has increased production of hazard protection suits by 30-to-40 percent compared to a year ago, providing protection for healthcare workers who are fighting Ebola, Associated Press reports. About 100 factory workers are producing more than 6000 suits a day, according to the AP. The suits not only have to keep health workers safe from the virus — they have to be flexible. The fabric includes polyethylene — the most common plastic used in plastic bags — and polypropylene, often used in packaging, labeling and bank notes. The hazmat suits are just more than a quarter millimeter thick. They are shipped to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as to hospitals in the U.S. The number of workers in the Chinese factory and the amount of equipment used to manufacture these suits has doubled to meet the demand, AP reports.
In a CNN opinion piece, Martha Pease said the hazmat suit is a symbol of fear but it can be reintroduced as a crucial piece of the solution to the Ebola outbreak. “Here it’s a costume. There it saves lives,” said Pease, whose company, DemandWerks, advises companies on strategies for growth. An international humanitarian and medical organization with a history of advocating for vulnerable populations, MDM joined ad agency Publicis Kaplan Thaler in the U.S. to turn public fear of Ebola around by asking people to donate a hazmat suit to workers in Africa, according to CNN. Medical workers are also at risk of becoming vulnerable to stigmatization and marginalization as a result of their direct contact with Ebola at its source, Pease said. “This threat to their status comes at a time when we most urgently need doctors and caretakers on the ground in Africa,” she said. –AFK Insider
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Millions of Americans brace for snowstorm ahead of Arctic blast

 
November 2014MIDWEST - Seven million people were under winter storm warnings from Montana to Michigan early Monday ahead of a blast of freezing temperatures that will reach the East Coast later this week. Six inches or more of snow is possible in a wide swath from the Dakotas to Minnesota and northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Forecasters say the snow will taper off in the Rockies and Plains by Monday evening but will continue to fall in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan through Tuesday. In Minneapolis, which could get a foot or more of wind-whipped snow, residents braced for a hellish evening commute and rushed out to buy shovels. “I’ve seen a lady with five today,” Jazz Crosby, a cashier at Kendall’s Ace Hardware, told NBC station KARE.
A cold surge will sweep in behind the snow, with two-thirds of the country seeing below average temperatures by Friday, Weather.com reported. Montana took the plunge on Sunday, with the mercury sliding from 49 degrees to 27 degrees in just one hour. Rapid City, South Dakota, won’t get out of the 20s on Monday, and a few places could set records lows. But it’s the duration of the cold air that’s unusual this early in the season; Minneapolis could stay below 32 degrees for seven days straight. The weather is part of a system being pushed in by the remnants of Typhoon Nuri that hit Alaska’s Aleutian Islands with hurricane-strength winds over the weekend. –CNBC
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Ebola outbreak in Koinadugu, Sierra Leone, prompts call for help from chief

 
November 2014AFRICA - The leader of a remote chiefdom in Sierra Leone has called for urgent help to contain Ebola, which is causing fear and panic in his community. The fresh outbreak of Ebola in Koinadugu, a district previously unaffected by the virus, has affected more than 60 people in a small chiefdom close to Guinea, the Red Cross has said. The head of Sierra Leone’s Red Cross team, John Mara, told the Guardian that at least 25 people had died and 38 people were believed to be infected after lab results proved positive for 15 more patients. Two of those buried had died on Tuesday, including a seven-year-old girl. Koinadugu had prided itself on being the only district in Sierra Leone to have been Ebola-free after local chiefs imposed a quarantine, barring travel and creating a system of official distribution vans and trucks to help farmers and traders get their product to neighboring markets. However, after two unexplained deaths in October were investigated, it emerged that Ebola had reached the chiefdom of Nenei and its three villages of Fankuya, Sumbaria and Kumala. The Red Cross met chief Foday Jalloh, the paramount or head chief of Nenei, to get his permission to enter the region to help the community, where traditional burial practices and medical therapies may have contributed to the spread of the virus. Jalloh said: “Please help us, we need your help and support.”
Mara, who is from the area, said: “We discovered there had been 25 deaths already, some of them unexplained. Prior to this, the district went six months without Ebola. On 15 October there were two cases of unidentified deaths. The situation is not really good because we have just got the results that show there are 15 new cases, on top of 23 we already knew about.” A Red Cross spokesman said it sent two burial teams to help local volunteers. However, the rugged terrain is making access difficult. “It’s about five hours’ drive to the district Kabala and then another five hours to the Nenie chiefdom. Our Toyota Land Cruiser got stuck twice yesterday on creeks and streams. Sometimes the bridge is just two logs for the right-hand and left-hand-side wheels,” he said. He said there was evidence the infection rate had dropped significantly in Kailahun, where the burial teams had come from. It was at the centre of the first outbreak in June and the site of the first field hospital erected by Médecins sans Frontières. “There were about 400 new cases a week in the peak in August. It has come down to five or 10 in the last few days,” said the spokesman. An estimated 50-70% of infections emanate from funerals, when highly contagious corpses have been washed in a traditional manner by friends and family. The Red Cross said education and community training about the dangers of traditional burial practices in Kailahun and Kenema, a nearby commercial hub, appeared to be paying off. “But we need to have zero new cases for 21 days before we can say it is clear of Ebola and all it takes is one case for it to start again,” said the spokesman. –Guardian
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