Police resort to tear gas after body of Ebola victim left in street for two days
Health officials in the West African country continue to be overwhelmed by the spread of the epidemic which has stretched health care facilities to breaking point.
Footage shot by BBC News shows residents staging irate impromptu protests over the failure to remove an Ebola victim’s corpse, with police resorting to tear gas to restore order.
This is not the first time that the Ebola crisis has sparked unrest. Animal rights activists in Spain staged a “mini-riot” last week after they attempted to prevent the removal of a dog that had to be put down having been in contact with a nurse who contracted Ebola and was quarantined in Madrid.
Last month, seven people were killed during rioting in Guinea after members of a delegation sent to educate residents about the Ebola virus were attacked by an angry crowd.
The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola cases could rise to 10,000 a week by December, ten times the current ratio. Only 4,300 treatment beds will be available by that time.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that the Ebola virus is “winning the race” against efforts to halt its spread.
“Ebola got a head start on us,” Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, told the United Nations Security Council.
“It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race,” he said. “We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan.”
Obama has been getting slammed for prematurely ending the war in Iraq, for no other reason than to score political points, only to see all of the work that our troops have done there collapse and for terrorists to move in. Now he’s desperately trying to convince everyone that he never said he ended the war in Iraq. Uh, OK, Barack. You sure about that?
In 2008, then candidate Obama promised to end the war in Iraq. In 2010, President Obama did just that, precipitously pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq, despite warnings against such action, and despite the Iraqi Army being far from ready to stand on their own.
During the 2012 election, Obama repeatedly, ad nauseam, reminded everyone who would listen that he personally had ended the war in Iraq, proud that he had fulfilled his campaign promise.
Of course, now that the Islamic State has arisen to fill the vacuum left when our troops pulled out, and the country has descended into a brutally violent mess, Obama is attempting to rewrite history, claiming leaving Iraq was “not my decision,” and blaming the entire mess on Bush, as he has a tendency to do.
Everything is always Bush’s fault with Obama, even a decision that Obama made long after Bush was out of office. 2016 just can’t get here fast enough.
American soldiers discovered more than 4,990 chemical munitions in Iraq, according to Iraqi and US officials and previously classified intelligence documents, which may now be in the hands of Islamic State militants.
For much of the duration of the Iraq War, which saw US soldiers open a military invasion against the Ba’athist country in March 2003 amid tremendous international outcry, US forces “repeatedly encountered, and on six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons” leftover from the Iraq-Iran War, reported the New York Times.
The hefty eight-part report, largely based on interviews and highly redacted intelligence documents, said “17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers…were exposed to nerve or mustard agents” between 2004 and 2011.
The article detailed the harrowing chemical encounters of several servicemen, including Sergeant Duling, who in August 2008 unwittingly led his unit into a munitions pit outside Baghdad.
“This is mustard agent,” he said, after carrying out an examination of the contents of the rusting artillery. “We’ve all been exposed.”
At first blush, it may seem inconceivable that the United States, which had argued for an invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it was harboring weapons of mass destruction (an accusation that the UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq prior to the American invasion/occupation had proven to be incorrect), would want to keep the discovery of WMDs in Iraq under wraps.
One reason for the hush-up, the report suggests, is that the United States was largely responsible for Iraq having chemical weapons in the first place.
“In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies,” it said.
Many of the casings were M110s, which the United States military had developed decades ago to disperse white phosphorous or mustard gas.
“The United States also exported the shells and the technology behind them,” the Times reported. “When Iraq went arms shopping in the 1980s, it found manufacturers in Italy and Spain willing to deal their copies. By 1988, these two countries alone had sold Iraq 85,000 empty M110-type shells, according to confidential United Nations documents.”
This is where the story begins to get very disturbing.
During the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), Baghdad actively sought the development of chemical weapons with the help of a number of Western countries, including the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France, according to internal Iraqi documents.
It is has already been widely documented that at least 50,000 Iranian civilians and soldiers were killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in the course of the war.
As the Times report detailed, many of the chemical weapons incidents were centered around the now largely destroyed Muthanna State Establishment, which was “the center of Iraqi chemical agent production in the 1980s.”
This is especially worrying because since June, that sensitive area has been in the possession of the Islamic State, which recently appeared on the scene in northern Iraq and Syria with public displays of extreme savagery that included the alleged beheading of American and British journalists and aid workers, not to mention Christian babies.
So the question as to how the United States kept the exposure of its troops to chemical weapons contamination in Iraq secret for so long has taken a back seat to the more immediate question as to whether or not the Islamic State has also gained possession of chemical weapons.
On Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that the next attack on the United States would be “far deadlier” than the last one.
“We’re in a very dangerous period,” Cheney, who regularly appears on the US talkshow circuit despite the dismal record of the Bush administration, told the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol in a video interview. “I think it’s more threatening than the period before 9/11.
“I think 9/11 will turn out to be not nearly as bad as the next mass casualty attack against the United States, which, if and when it comes, will be with something far deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters.”
Does Mr. Cheney know something that the American public – much as it has been clueless about the chemical weapons in Iraq – does not yet know about?
That would be a far more disturbing revelation.
“It would be horrifically unethical to say that we’re just going to isolate people”
LONDON – West Africa could face up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday, adding that the death rate in the current outbreak has risen to 70 percent.
WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward gave the grim figures during a news conference in Geneva. Previously, the agency had estimated the Ebola mortality rate at around 50 percent overall. In contrast, in events such as flu pandemics, the death rate is typically under 2 percent.
Acknowledging that Ebola was “a high mortality disease,” Aylward said the U.N. health agency was still focused on trying to get sick people isolated and provide treatment as early as possible.
He told reporters if the world’s response to the Ebola crisis isn’t stepped up within 60 days, “a lot more people will die” and health workers will be stretched even further. Experts say the epidemic is doubling in size about every three weeks.
WHO raised its Ebola death toll tally Tuesday to 4,447 people, nearly all of them in West Africa, out of more than 8,900 believed to be infected. Aylward said calculating the death rate means tracking the outcomes of all possible patients — a complicated process since the numbers of cases are substantially underreported and much patient data is missing.
Health workers have been hit hard by the virus, which is spread by contact with bodily fluids like blood, vomit and diarrhea. Doctors Without Borders said 16 of its employees had been infected with Ebola and nine of them have died.
Speaking Tuesday in Johannesburg, the head of the charity’s South Africa unit, Sharon Ekambaram, said medical workers have received woefully inadequate assistance from the international community.
“Where is WHO Africa? Where is the African Union?” said Ekambaram. “We’ve all heard their promises in the media but have seen very little on the ground.”
For the last month, there’s been about 1,000 new Ebola cases per week — including suspected, confirmed and probable cases, Aylward said. The U.N. agency was aiming to get 70 percent of Ebola cases isolated and 70 percent of victims safely buried by December to reverse the outbreak.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been the hardest-hit nations in the current epidemic, and Aylward said WHO was very concerned about the spread of Ebola in their capital cities — Freetown, Conakry and Monrovia — where people move freely across borders.
While some regions have seen the number of Ebola cases stabilize or fall, Aylward said “that doesn’t mean they will get down to zero.”
He said WHO was still focused on trying to treat Ebola patients, despite West Africa’s often-broken health care systems.
“It would be horrifically unethical to say that we’re just going to isolate people,” he said, noting that new strategies like handing out protective equipment to families and setting up very basic clinics — without much treatment — was a priority.
Aylward said there was no evidence that any countries were hiding Ebola cases, but said countries bordering the affected area, including Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea-Bissau, were at high risk of importing the disease.
“This is not a virus that’s easy to suppress or hide,” he said, noting that Ebola has not spread very much internationally. “I don’t expect this virus to just go anywhere. There is exit screening in place and sick people won’t be moving.”
In other Ebola news:
– A U.N. medical worker infected with Ebola in Liberia died in Germany despite “intensive medical procedures.” The St. Georg hospital in Leipzig said Tuesday the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight. He had tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 6, prompting Liberia’s U.N. peacekeeping mission to put 41 other staff members under “close medical observation.”
– In Dallas, a U.S. nurse who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian patient received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus. Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse, was among 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, according to medical records. The plasma came from Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the U.S. from Liberia to be treated for Ebola. Brantly received an experimental treatment and fought off the virus.
– In Spain, the government’s Ebola committee said the assistant nurse infected with the virus has improved slightly but was still in serious condition. Fifteen contacts of hers were being monitored.
– Starting Thursday, customs and health officials at airports in Washington, Chicago, Atlanta and Newark plan to take the temperatures of passengers arriving from three West African countries.
By JENNIFER SMITH FOR MAILONLINE
Stocking up on drinking water and avoiding all human contact are among steps that will have to be taken to avoid an Ebola epidemic, survivalists have warned.
To avoid contracting the deadly virus people will have to barricade themselves in their homes if the infection spreads, they say.
Their advice comes as sales of protective clothing and home infection control kits rise with an increasing number of people fearing the worst.
Around 4,000 people have died after contracting Ebola which broke out in western Africa in March.
While the threat of an epidemic in the UK remains low, experts have warned those who have a good chance of surviving an outbreak must prepare now before it is too late.
One survivalist, known only as Steve, said among the ways to stay safe in the worst possible scenario is to avoid all human contact.
‘If this virus were to really get hold it would expand exponentially and result in a very big mortality rate.
‘That being the case – the number one preventative method is to put as much distance between you and any infected person as possible.
‘To have half a chance of surviving an epidemic you must be prepared for the worse, well before it actually hits us in bigger proportions.
‘So the next precaution in being prepared for this outbreak is to treat everyone else as if they are infected.’
Steve, who runs the country’s most popular survivalist website, UK Prepper Guide, added Brits would have two options if struck with an epidemic – ‘shutting in’ or ‘bugging out’.
Shutting in means staying at home to wither the storm. To be able to do this, families must stock up on long-lasting, dehydrated foods and water.
While Ebola is not a water-based disease, if those involved with water distribution became infected, the national water supply would be at risk, Steve added.
‘Consider stocking up on foods that can be easily cooked – tinned foods, rice, beans, dehydrated foods like pot noodles and similar)
‘Remember, if an epidemic were to occur, you would not want to leave your home and go shopping!
‘As this is not a water or air borne virus, you can still safely drink your tap water, so stocking up there isn’t really a priority.’
‘However, what about the people who run the water plants and the electrical systems? If they were to be infected it could lead to the infrastructure becoming compromised.
So, stocking up on bottled water or water filter systems would be advisable.’
‘Remember the simple things – toilet rolls (essential) for at least a month, sanitising gel and wipes, any medication you require (at least a months supply).
‘One very important thing is communication – you must know whats going on – obviously a radio (with spare batteries).
Bugging out involves fleeing to an uncontaminated area to escape threats of infection. If this is the method chosen, survivalists must have a ‘bug out bag’ prepared at all times and a full tank of petrol to flee at a moment’s notice.
‘Bugging out is really the final straw and, to be honest, not many people would last more than a few days.
‘Your ‘bug out bag’ would contain essential medical supplies, first aid kit, cash, (as this may be your only way to get things), camping and cooking equipment, some dehydrated foods and water.
‘Having prepared for this or any other disaster must be done well before that disaster strikes.
‘You must have a plan for staying and a plan for leaving your home – supplies to last and essentials to go.
‘If your serious about surviving an epidemic and want to give yourself the best odds – then you’d better start prepping now,’ he added.
Marines formed a line on the tarmac and had their temperatures checked by Liberian health workers
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Six U.S. military planes arrived in the Ebola hot zone Thursday with more Marines, as West Africa’s leaders pleaded for the world’s help in dealing with a crisis that one called “a tragedy unforeseen in modern times.”
“Our people are dying,” Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma lamented by videoconference at a World Bank meeting in Washington. He said other countries are not responding fast enough while children are orphaned and infected doctors and nurses are lost to the disease.
Alpha Conde of Guinea said the region’s countries are in “a very fragile situation.”
Ebola is “an international threat and deserves an international response,” he said, speaking through a translator as he sought money, medicine, equipment and training for health care workers.
Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he was reminded of the start of the AIDS epidemic.
“We have to work now so this is not the next AIDS,” Frieden said.
The fleet of planes that landed outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia consisted of four MV-22 Ospreys and two KC-130s. The 100 additional Marines bring to just over 300 the total number of American troops in the country, said Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the commander leading the U.S. response.
Williams joined the American ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, at the airport to greet the aircraft.
As vehicles unloaded boxes of equipment wrapped in green-and-black cloth, the Marines formed a line on the tarmac and had their temperatures checked by Liberian health workers.
Meanwhile, British authorities said they would introduce “enhanced” screening of travelers for Ebola at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar rail terminals.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said passengers arriving from West Africa would be questioned about their travels and contacts. Some people could be given a medical assessment and advice on what to do if they develop symptoms.
Also Thursday, Liberian police used batons and rattan whips to disperse 100 protesters outside the National Assembly, where lawmakers were debating granting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf more powers beyond those contained in a state of emergency declared in August. Her handling of the crisis has been criticized as heavy handed and ineffective.
Liberian state radio announced that Senate elections scheduled for next week would be postponed. No new date was given.
The outbreak has killed more than 3,800 people, according to the latest World Health Organization figures. The vast majority of those deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Elsewhere, University of Maryland researchers announced that the first study of a possible Ebola vaccine in Africa was underway. Scientists say three health care workers in Mali received the experimental shots developed by the U.S. government.
Mali has not had any cases of Ebola, but it borders the outbreak zone. Researchers say early safety tests should be done in Ebola-free countries to avoid complicating factors. If the vaccine appears to be safe, larger trials could be done in the outbreak zone early next year.
The U.S. military is working to build medical centers in Liberia and may send up to 4,000 soldiers to help with the Ebola crisis. Medical workers and beds for Ebola patients are sorely lacking.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said his country would provide more than 750 troops to help build treatment centers and an Ebola “training academy” in Sierra Leone. Army medics and helicopters will provide direct support. Britain will also contribute an aviation support ship.
British troops are expected to arrive next week in Sierra Leone, where they will join military engineers and planners who have been there for nearly a month helping to construct medical centers.
The German military, which has already been flying material such as protective clothing from Senegal to the worst-hit countries, planned to start a wider deployment of aid in mid-November. The military is expected to set up a clinic for 50 patients.
Sierra Leone officials finally released a shipping container filled with medical gear and mattresses that had been held up at the port for more than a month.
Ibrahim Bangura, an official who handles medical supplies, said the container’s contents were finally in his possession on Thursday. Bureaucracy and political infighting were blamed for delay in distributing the aid.
In Guinea, where the first Ebola cases were confirmed back in March, Doctors Without Borders warned on Thursday of a “massive” influx of cases in the capital.
The aid group’s center in Conakry received 22 patients on Monday alone, including 18 from the same region 50 kilometers east of the city, the group said, adding that its facilities were reaching their limits.
There was continued concern about Ebola in Spain, where the first person known to have caught the disease outside the outbreak zone in West Africa became sick.
The condition of Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero deteriorated on Thursday, said Yolanda Fuentes, deputy director of Madrid’s Carlos III hospital.
Four doctors, four nurses, a hospital orderly and two beauty salon workers who came into contact with Romero have been admitted to the hospital, bringing to 14 the number of people being monitored at the center, health officials said late Thursday.
In Germany, a man infected in Liberia arrived Thursday at a hospital for treatment — the third Ebola patient to be flown to the country. The St. Georg Hospital in Leipzig said the patient works for the United Nations in Liberia.
Clendenning reported from Madrid. Associated Press writers Clarence Roy-Macaulay in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Geir Moulson in Berlin; Maria Cheng in London; Wade Williams in Monrovia, Liberia; Robbie Corey-Boulet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Connie Cass in Washington, D.C., also contributed to this report.