In a world rife with geopolitical calamities, it is easy to forget that west Africa is currently suffering the worst Ebola epidemic in history. Here are the latest updates:
- State Department has confirmed that one U.S. citizen died from Ebola in Nigeria after being infected in Liberia.
- Victim who died in Lagos was bound for U.S., and was an American citizen
- U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the virus poses a threat to Britain, and will hold an emergency meeting.
- Ebola center run by Americans closed after Liberia disturbances
- Two Peace Corps volunteers under observation after coming into contact with individual who later died of Ebola
- Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor dead after contracting virus
- Hong Kong woman tests negative for Ebola
- Gabon measures to prevent Ebola outbreak: Police checks at borders, airports, land crossings
- Latest death toll in West Africa is 672, as of July 27 release: WHO
More about the formerly anonymous person who died over the weekend in Nigeria after collapsing at the airport and turns out was a US citizen:
Patrick Sawyer worked for the Liberian government and was visiting his sister there when he developed symptoms while on a plane to Nigeria. He was quarantined on arrival in Lagos and died on Friday.
His wife, Decontee, 34, who like Mr Sawyer is originally from Liberia, currently at the heart of the terrifying Ebola outbreak, said he had been due to travel on to America where he could have become Patient Zero in a US epidemic.
The 40-year-old father-of-three is believed to have contracted the disease from his sister, whom he was caring for without knowing she had Ebola.
Mr Sawyer took two flights to get to Nigeria from Liberia, where he had attended his sister's funeral. The first took him from Monrovia to Lome in Togo, where he boarded a plane to Lagos. He collapsed at the airport on landing.
The Nigerian authorities have closed the hospital he was treated at, First Consultants Hospital in Obalende, one of the busiest parts of the city with a population of around 21 million.
Manifests of the passengers and crew who travelled on the same flights as Mr Sawyer have yet to be released.
His job involved promoting trade in West Africa and he was on his way to a conference in Lagos from where he planned to travel back to the US when he fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea.
Fellow passengers on his plane were given warnings about the disease’s symptoms, which can include bleeding from the nose and mouth, but were allowed to continue on their journeys.
And a focus on Liberia, which has rapidly become the epicenter of the latest breakout, and which has escalated the Ebola response to a near national emergency level, deploying police to prevent Ebola clashes, quaranteening of communities, closing schools and giving non-essential government staff a 30 day leave, and announcing that people who raise prices on soap, chlorine, sanitizers, buckets will be prosecuted. More from Reuters:
Liberia will close schools and consider quarantining some communities, it said on Wednesday, rolling out the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government to halt the worst outbreak on record of the deadly Ebola virus.
On Wednesday, Liberian health officials said an isolation unit for Ebola victims in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, was overrun with cases and health workers were being forced to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes. Dozens of local health workers, including Sierra Leone and Liberia's leading two Ebola doctors, have died treating patients.
"This is a major public health emergency. It's fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread," Lewis Brown, Liberia's information minister, told Reuters. "We need the support of the international community now more than ever. We desperately need all the help we can get."
Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the action plan, which includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.
The U.S. Peace Corps said on Wednesday it was temporarily withdrawing 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and that two of its volunteers had been isolated and were under observation after coming in contact with a person who later died of the Ebola virus. The Peace Corp has 102 volunteers in Guinea, 108 in Liberia and 130 in Sierra Leone working in education, health and agriculture.
The State Department has confirmed that one U.S. citizen died from Ebola in Nigeria after being infected in Liberia. Two other American aid workers infected with Ebola, Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, are in serious condition, but they have shown slight improvement. They were part of a team in Liberia from North Carolina-based Christian relief groups Samaritan's Purse and SIM.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a speech posted on the presidency's website that the government was considering quarantining several communities based on the recommendation of the health ministry. http://www.emansion.gov.lr/
"When these measures are instituted, only healthcare workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas. Food and other medical support will be provided to those communities and affected individuals," she said, adding that all markets in border areas are to be closed.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters that President Barack Obama had been briefed on Tuesday by his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, and that the White House was monitoring the deadly outbreak.
"The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has said this is not a risk to the United States at this time," Schultz told reporters traveling with the president back to Washington from Kansas City, Missouri. He said the U.S. government had increased assistance to countries battling Ebola.
Schultz said the White House would proceed with a planned U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington Aug. 4-6 that about 50 Africa leaders are expected to attend to discuss trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
Liberia's President Surleaf said she would not be attending the summit but that Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and a few cabinet ministers "whose presence are absolutely necessary" would attend.
"We have no plans to change any elements of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as we believe all air travel continues to be safe," Schultz said.