Ebola mapThe UN’s World Health Organisation is calling a public health emergency meeting in Geneva, amid suggestions that areas infected with Ebola will be sealed off. Fear about the spread of Ebola is now gripping governments, as they struggle to cope with the West African epidemic. The World Health Organisation warns the disease is spreading faster than efforts to control it. The current death toll is over 900.

There are demands that an experimental drug which was given to American Ebola victims should be made available in Africa.

These are some of the latest stories:

    • Bodies have been dumped in the streets in Liberia, as relatives fear their family members have died of Ebola. This despite the Liberian government ordering that all Ebola dead be cremated.
    • Sierra Leone cannot contain the epidemic, according to a doctor from the medical charity, MSF. Anja Wolz said the country needs international help if it is going to stop the situation from getting worse. Specifically, she called on the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to become involved.“I think that the government and the ministry of health here in Sierra Leone is not able to deal with this outbreak. We need much more help from international organizations – as WHO, as CDC, as other organizations – to come to support the government,” she said.“Still we have unsafe burials; people who are doing the burial without disinfection of the body; still we have patients who are hiding themselves; still we have patients or contacts of patients who are running away because they are afraid.”
    • Sierra Leone has despatched 750 troops to enforce a quarantine in the areas effected.
    • West African leaders agreed to seal off areas of infection, with troops, if need be. “We have agreed to take important and extraordinary actions at the inter-country level to focus on cross-border regions that have more than 70 percent of the epidemic,” said Hadja Saran Darab, the secretary-general of the Mano River Union bloc grouping the nations.Ebola pandemic chart“These areas will be isolated by police and military. The people in these areas being isolated will be provided with material support,” she said at the meeting in Conakry.
    • A man returning to Saudi Arabia from Sierra Leone has died with Ebola like symptoms.
    • South Africa is to host an ‘Ebola war room’ for southern Africa.
    • Several British nationals have been put into voluntary quarantine after returning from West Africa. So has an American doctor.
    • Spain has evacuated a priest who became infected with Ebola while working in Liberia.
    • Nigeria reports that the doctor who treated the Ebola patient from Liberia has himself contracted the disease. The country has recorded its second Ebola death and more people infected with the virus. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government worries about how to prevent Ebola further, since the country has more than 1,400 illegal or informal border crossings. Nigeria has also banned the return of bodies from outside the country, especially from Ebola infected countries.
    • West African leaders agreed to seal off areas of infection, with troops, if need be. “We have agreed to take important and extraordinary actions at the inter-country level to focus on cross-border regions that have more than 70 percent of the epidemic,” said Hadja Saran Darab, the secretary-general of the Mano River Union bloc grouping the nations.”These areas will be isolated by police and military. The people in these areas being isolated will be provided with material support,” she said at the meeting in Conakry.
    • Ghana banned flight from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

    • World Health Organisation warns that traditional burial practices in Sierra Leone and Guinea of washing bodies helps spread the virus.

    • British Airways suspends flights to Sierra Leone. Aksy – a major West African airline – ended flights between the effected countries. Asky said it took the decision to keep “its passengers and staff safe during this unsettling time”. Emirates suspends flights to Guinea.
    • South Africa says it will not allow foreign nationals to travel to the country for medical care.”If there is a confirmed diagnosis of a foreign national, they will not be allowed into the country (to get treatment),” said Lucille Blumberg of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. “If it is undiagnosed and the person does not know, they will be treated.”
    • 274 Mormon missionaries are being transferred out of Sierra Leone and Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak. The U.S. Peace Corps has evacuated hundreds of its staff from the effected countries.
    • The U.S. is sending more than 50 Ebola experts to the region to try to fight the epidemic.
    • Air ambulances has evacuated two American medical staff infected by Ebola. The health of one of the evacuees, Kent Brantly, is reported to be improving.
    • There is concern in Britain that Ebola might be brought in by infected smuggled bush meat.

Despite the evident concern, scientists continue to insist that Ebola is not a global threat. This article from Scientific America makes this case, arguing that the virus is NOT easily spread.