News / Africa

Ebola Toll Tops 900; Liberia Declares Emergency

A Nigerian port health official speaks to a passenger arriving at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
A Nigerian port health official speaks to a passenger arriving at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
VOA News

The deadly Ebola outbreak on Wednesday showed new signs of spreading, as Nigeria confirmed a second death plus five new cases.

The new cases in Nigeria raise concerns that the virus will spread further in Africa's most populous nation, with its 174 million residents.

Meanwhile, Liberia has declared a state of emergency over the outbreak with its president saying the scale of the epidemic represented a threat to state security.

So far, the smaller and less populous countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been the epicenters of the outbreak, which has claimed 932 deaths among more than 1,700 cases, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia reported it was investigating the suspicious death of a man who traveled through West Africa.

Ebola outbreaks, deaths in east Africa, as of August 6, 2014Ebola outbreaks, deaths in east Africa, as of August 6, 2014
Ebola outbreaks, deaths in east Africa, as of August 6, 2014
Ebola outbreaks, deaths in east Africa, as of August 6, 2014

The World Health Organization will convene an ethics panel next week to discuss whether the experimental drug ZMapp should be given to some Ebola patients across West Africa.

Two American medical missionaries who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia appear to be showing signs of improvement after doses of the experimental serum in recent days.

The drug has not been approved for, or tested on humans, and according to its manufacturer, there is only a very limited supply of the experimental drug.

If its use is recommended, the panel then will consider who should get the drug.

President Barack Obama said late Wednesday it was too early at this point to consider sending the drug to West Africa.

Nigerian officials said a nurse who treated the country's first Ebola patient two weeks ago died Tuesday of the disease. She was the first known Nigerian to have died from Ebola. The other victim was Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who flew into Nigeria from Liberia with the disease. He was hospitalized in Lagos and died July 25.

A Nigerian port health official wears protective gear at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.A Nigerian port health official wears protective gear at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
A Nigerian port health official wears protective gear at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
A Nigerian port health official wears protective gear at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.

The five other Nigerian patients are now in isolation at a Lagos hospital. All are health workers who treated Sawyer.

Nigeria is bracing for the possibility of more infections. Health Minister  Onyebuchi Chukwu said the government is establishing a 24-hour-a-day Ebola command center and is trying to prepare hospitals around the country in case the disease spreads further.

“We need to work with each state government to establish isolation wards in readiness for any eventuality,” Chukwu said, noting the one in Lagos State would be strengthened and expanded.

Ebola suspected in Saudi death

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's official news agency reported that a suspected Ebola patient died in Jeddah on Wednesday despite two days of intensive hospital treatment. The man came down with symptoms of Ebola after a business trip to Sierra Leone. 

Saudi health officials have sent tissue samples to laboratories abroad to confirm whether the deceased patient had been infected by Ebola.

Liberia prays for relief


In Liberia, where WHO has reported at least 282 deaths from the virus, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s message to the nation Tuesday night boiled down to this: God help us.

“Relying on his divine guidance for our survival as a nation,” she said, “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to see God’s face, to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land.”

Beginning Wednesday, Liberians are to fast and pray from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sirleaf’s pronouncement has gotten mixed reactions in the capital, Monrovia. Some say it shows just how desperate the situation has become while others tell VOA it is an important step to keep people calm and unified.

Some had already heeded the president's call as of daylight Wednesday.

About 700 people, some dressed in white, gathered here at the Abundant Life Church Church on the outskirts of Monrovia.

“…The nation will survive.  Hallelujah.  Our country will emerge victorious over this incurable disease,” Pastor Varney Yarwo preached from the pulpit.

‘The Dark Week’

The Liberian health ministry said 94 people died of Ebola over seven days beginning July 27, in what its latest report calls "The Dark Week."

Daily life has ground to halt in much of Liberia. Police are protecting health workers and facilities as fear and frustration continue to breed hostility. The president has put nonessential government workers on mandatory leave, closed schools and told citizens to avoid large public gatherings.

That's all in the hope of reducing transmission of the disease, spread through bodily fluids, while health workers scramble to contain existing cases.

In neighboring Sierra Leone, considered the most dangerous zone of this regional outbreak, soldiers have deployed to the east to quarantine the most affected areas.

The government’s actions come amid reports that people there are not cooperating with efforts to isolate the sick and those who may have been exposed to the disease.

This week, the World Bank pledged up to $200 million in emergency funding to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone contain the outbreak, improve public health systems and help communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis.

American patients improving

Two American missionaries who contracted Ebola in Liberia are said to be improving after receiving an experimental treatment. Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly are in a hospital isolation unit in the U.S. city of Atlanta. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is still too early to know whether the experimental drug, Zmapp, can save their lives.  

The manufacturer of the drug, California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, said in a statement that very little of the drug is available but that the company is working with government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible.

VOA contributors to this report include Anne Look from Dakar, Senegal, Heather Murdock from Abuja, Nigeria, and Prince Collins.



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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Tolorunloju Oke from: Nigeria
August 11, 2014 6:57 PM
It is sincere prayer that God by his mercy and power will put an end to ebola virus that spread like inferno. May there be outstretch hand of God to stop the deadly disease

by: Justin B. Karhou from: Liberia
August 08, 2014 7:50 AM
May WHO Advise A Clinical Test Of TKM-Ebola Drug.There Is A Need Of An Approval Of ZMAPP By WHO In Order Save The Dying Population In W/Africa.

by: Randy Horton
August 07, 2014 10:53 PM
Shouldn't the CDC have been aware of this outbreak earlier? How about approving experimental drugs? Why does the Federal government own patents on drugs?

by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
August 07, 2014 12:46 PM
save the smail communities of Liberia

by: delisile from: soweto
August 07, 2014 8:03 AM
what about us in south afria are we in danger

by: Maj Variola
August 06, 2014 10:10 PM
The West will begin mining the harbors and cratering the airports so
nothing can leave. They will landmine the jungle. Anything that
leaves is sunk or shot. Snipers sans Frontieres. Quarantine with
extreme prejudice.

Civilization is a choice. Make it. Soon.

Or don't, and the population goes back to the under-billion level
before the West started feeding everyone...

And you can't have the Mapp antibodies if you don't believe in genetically modified organisms.

Can I have fries with that bushmeat?

by: Mark from: Oregon
August 06, 2014 9:59 PM
This is actually a really good natural process that has been happening for thousands of years. Sickness and disease have not played nearly as important of a role as it/they should have in the recent past to control over population in the human species.

by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
August 06, 2014 2:20 PM
I expect that the death count significantly lags the actual death toll.

by: Mrs. Kelly Grossfart from: USA
August 06, 2014 1:24 PM
In the United States, draconian-sounding preparations are being made, too, and many have been in place for years. In an amendment to “Executive Order” 13295 signed last week, Obama, expanding on a previous order, has already purported to grant his administration vast powers to detain Americans suspected of harboring a “respiratory illness.” At the state level, a “model” law created by the feds and the WHO on “Emergency Health Powers,” which provides officials with purported powers blasted as “draconian” by critics, has been adopted in whole or in part by some four in five state governments.

While the Ebola outbreak has been largely centered in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, fears are growing about a potential global epidemic as the virus spreads. With illegal immigrants flooding across the U.S. border, it is hardly far-fetched to suppose that the disease will eventually reach American shores, too. Already, dozens of illegal immigrants from the three African countries suffering the most severe Ebola outbreaks have been apprehended crossing the U.S. border with Mexico. So what would — or could — American authorities do? The answers have more than a few analysts warning of potential government abuse.
In Response

by: Greg from: Maryland
August 06, 2014 11:29 PM
What are you talking about? I'm sorry but what you have stated towards the end is false. The disease isn't in Mexico and west Africans haven't been caught crossing the U.S. Border. And you're way off about the "Executive Order".
In Response

by: Bradb99 from: USA
August 06, 2014 3:08 PM
Shame on you for bringing your own tea party world-view on a medical crisis happening in Africa. Not a single person crossing our southern border has ever had Ebola. Funny how you folks never worry about our northern border with Canada, where actual terrorists planning an attack on LAX airport were caught a number of years ago. Hmmm, I wonder what could be the difference between the people sneaking in from the Canadian border and the Mexican border are??? By the way, as to your whole "this is a secret plot for Obama to seize control" post, your tinfoil hat has slipped ... a lot.

by: Anne Kool from: US
August 06, 2014 1:11 PM
With Ebola deaths now being reported in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the virus has spread to five different countries. World Health Organization officials are currently meeting in Geneva to decide whether to announce a global health emergency. Scientists in Canada and Canada’s Public Health Agency have both acknowledged that the virus has likely gone airborne at least to a limited degree, while the CDC has urged airline staff to take steps to prevent the airborne spread of the virus, including giving suspected Ebola victims surgical masks as well as directing staff to “not use compressed air, which might spread infectious material through the air.”

Leaked Customs and Border Protection documents revealed earlier this week show that thousands of immigrants from Ebola-hit nations have attempted to sneak across the U.S. border this year, leading to concerns that the many more who are not apprehended pose a health risk. Concern is growing that U.S. hospitals could be insufficiently prepared to deal with a wider outbreak of the virus. “Many hospitals are poorly prepared to contain any pathogen,” writes Betsy McCaughey. “That’s why at least 75,000 people a year die from hospital infections. If hospitals can’t stop common infections such as MRSA, C. diff and VRE, they can’t handle Ebola.”

As we reported last week, President Barack Obama signed an amendment to an executive order which allows health authorities to detain Americans who merely show signs of respiratory illness. The CDC has also outlined measures for dealing with an outbreak of a communicable disease which allow for the quarantine of “well persons” who “do not show symptoms” of the disease. What VOA won't tell you.............
In Response

by: Shannon from: NY
August 06, 2014 10:56 PM
@Bradb99 Canada has no people with Ebola either. Also no one from Canada is jumping the border lol. I don't think Canadians are that interested in going to the US anyway. Shutting down North American borders to Mexico and Canada is not needed. BTW Canada is not after you and if someone stupid got off an air-plain in Canada (as if it couldn't have happened in the US) and went to the US through some random border, then blew some place up. It's homeland securities problem. Not Canada. Brad, i think that you should think about what you type before you it.
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