Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Emergency Meets Primitive Fear

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries."
"This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response."
Margaret Chan, director general, World Health Organization

"There are dead bodies all over the place and they now know that it's real. They know that it's deadly and they are now beginning to respond."
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia

"When children are not supervised, they can go anywhere and make the problem worse."
"Currently, some measures taken by our neighbours could make the fight against Ebola even harder."
Aboubacar Sidiki Diakita, leader, Guinean Ebola task force
Ebola outbreak in West Africa
A banner reading 'Ebola is real, Protect yourself and your family', warns people of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday Aug. 2, 2014. An Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 700 people in West Africa is moving faster than efforts to control the disease, the head of the World Health Organization warned, as presidents from the affected countries met Friday in Guinea's capital. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

"I believe we're only seeing a small portion of the cases out there. The virus is getting to large, dense, city areas", warned Randy Schoepp, chief of diagnostics at the U.S. army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases currently operating the sole laboratory in Liberia undertaking the testing of Ebola samples. The deaths, he is concerned so far seen, could represent merely the tip of the iceberg.

And in those west African nations that are affected by this Ebola virus outbreak, signs of growing panic are being evidenced. Helped no end by the very fact that a dearth of public health education has not prepared the population to fully understand what is occurring and how they can defend themselves against this dread disease. Instead, a widespread belief is shared that witchcraft is the cause.

The situation is so frighteningly dire that a special meeting was convened at a summit in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, from whence Margaret Chan spoke, as head of the WHO. From her perspective the response to the outbreak has been "woefully inadequate" for a problem that has been "moving faster than our efforts to control it."

Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Liberian soldiers walk through streets to prevent panic as fears of the deadly Ebola virus spread in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

Front-line workers are fully aware of the necessity to cover every centimetre of their bodies in full protection against communicating the virus in their work attempting to bring solace to suffers and treat them to the best of their limited abilities since there is no drug as yet discovered to help victims nor any protective inoculation to avoid contracting the dangerous viral germ.

Two Emory Hospital isolation units in Atlanta are awaiting the arrival of Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both infected by Ebola as a result of their ministrations during this viral outbreak. Those isolation units were designed a dozen years earlier to take care of scientists working at the Centres for Disease Control should any ever have become infected while handling dangerous infectious germs.

An ambulance arrives with Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, right, to Emory University Hospital, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. Brantly, infected with the Ebola virus in Africa arrived in Atlanta for treatment Saturday, landing in a specially equipped plane at a military base, then being whisked away to one of the most sophisticated hospital isolation units in the country, officials say. (AP Photo/WSB-TV Atlanta) METRO ATLANTA TV OUT
An ambulance arrives with Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, right, to Emory University Hospital, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta/AFP
Some Liberians, lamented President Sirleaf of Liberia, were withholding infected people from clinic isolation, keeping them at home instead, bringing them to traditional healers in fear that specialist treatment clinics were responsible for spreading the disease. Sierra Leone ordered its security forces to convey health workers door-to-door in a move to enable the search of anyone suspected of shielding Ebola sufferers.

When Liberia decided to close all its schools in yet another effort to contain the dread feared disease, the leader of the Guinean Ebola task force was critical of the move, fearing it might prove counter-productive. Canada, the United States, Germany and France have issued warnings to their travelling public against travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone where the outbreaks have occurred.

Ebola outbreak in West Africa
A close up of newspaper front pages focusing on the Ebola outbreak, including a newspaper, left, reading 'Burn all bodies' in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, July 31, 2014. The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa as the World Health Organization on Thursday announced dozens of new fatalities. (AP Photo/Jonathan Paye-Layleh)

Thus far, Dubai's Emirates airline has become the first global carrier to suspend flights to the area. And the World Health Organization has initiated a $110-million recruiting drive to take on several hundred additional staff in hopes of combating the crisis. Local officials in west Africa, points out WHO, have no practical experience in fighting Ebola.

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