Liberia Eases Prayer Restrictions But Extends Lockdown

File Photo: Liberia’s president-elect and former football star George Weah. Photo: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Liberian President George Weah has said he will partially lift restrictions on praying in mosques and churches aimed at curbing coronavirus while extending a lockdown in the capital Monrovia.

In a statement on Friday, the former international footballer said emergency measures announced in April would be extended for two weeks in the West African nation.

These include a ban on all movement between the country’s 15 counties, the closure of non-essential businesses, and stay-at-home orders for Monrovia’s roughly one million inhabitants.

But Weah said he would allow churches to resume services from May 17, and mosques from May 15, provided that they run at 25-per cent capacity to allow for social distancing.

Liberian authorities have recorded 199 cases of the coronavirus to date, with 20 fatalities.

As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that Liberia is ill-prepared to handle a large outbreak.

The nation of some 4.8 million people was badly hit during West Africa’s 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4,800 people in the country.

France To Set Up Military Hospital To Fight Ebola In West Africa

Ebola
French President Francois Hollande addresses a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, September 18, 2014.

France will set up a military hospital in West Africa in the coming days as part of France’s contribution to the fight against the Ebola outbreak there, President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

Hollande said that France’s response to the outbreak would not be limited to a financial contribution to European funds being made available to fight the virus, which the World Health Organization said on Thursday had claimed 2,630 lives so far.

“I have therefore taken the decision to set up a military hospital in the coming days in … the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak,” Hollande said during a news conference.

Death toll in West Africa Ebola epidemic has reached 2,630 in the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in history, which has so far infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“The upward epidemic trend continues in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the United Nations health agency said.

In a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 40 deaths had been reported out of 71 cases by Sept. 15, the WHO said.

Death Toll In West Africa Ebola Epidemic Reaches 2,630 – WHO

EbolaAt least 2,630 people have died in the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in history, which has so far infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

In an update on the epidemic, which is raging through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and has spread into Nigeria and Senegal, the WHO said there were no signs yet of it slowing.

“The upward epidemic trend continues in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the United Nations health agency said.

Those three countries account for the vast majority of cases and deaths in the outbreak – 8 others have died in Nigeria, out of 21 cases, and one case has been confirmed in Senegal.

The WHO said a surge in Ebola in Liberia is being driven primarily by a continued increase in the number of cases reported in the capital, Monrovia, where 1,210 bed spaces were needed, five times the current capacity.

The WHO has said it hopes to be able to “bend the curve” in the almost exponential increase in cases within three months.

The latest data updated five days of data for Liberia and one day for the other countries, and showed no new deaths in Sierra Leone since the previous update.

The WHO said efforts to integrate various sources of data in Liberia would lead to many cases being reclassified and about 100 previously unreported cases had been found and would be included in later updates.

In a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 40 deaths had been reported out of 71 cases by Sept. 15, the WHO said.

Plane Carrying Third U.S. Missionary With Ebola Leaves Liberia

U.S. MissionaryA plane carrying a third U.S. missionary infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia left Monrovia on Thursday, and he will be taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the Christian organization SIM USA said.

A 51-year-old Boston physician, Dr. Rick Sacra, is the latest worker for SIM USA to be infected with the virus that has killed more than 1,900 people.

The plane was expected to arrive in Omaha on Friday morning, and Sacra will begin receiving treatment in the hospital’s Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, the organization said in a statement.

“Rick was receiving excellent care from our SIM/ELWA staff in Liberia at our Ebola 2 Care Center,” said President of SIM USA, Bruce Johnson.

“They all love and admire him deeply. However, the Nebraska Medical Center provides advanced monitoring equipment and wider availability of treatment options,” Johnson said.

Liberian Information Minister, Lewis Brown, confirmed that the plane carrying Sacra was identical to the Gulfstream jet that ferried Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who had contracted the disease in July while working at the missionary group’s health facilities in Liberia.

Sacra had volunteered to return to Liberia, where he has long offered medical services, when the two other U.S. missionary health workers were infected.

Writebol and Brantly have since recovered after being flown back to the United States for treatment in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Sacra had not been caring for Ebola patients but was delivering babies, and had been following protocols to prevent the disease, the group said.

It was not known how he contracted the disease.

Ebola Patient Escapes Quarantine Site In Liberia

Ebola PatientThe Ebola situation in Liberia is getting more desperate as medical staff pursue a man infected with Ebola through a market near Monrovia as transfixed crowds watch.

The man, who has Ebola, had escaped quarantine in Monrovia, searching for food and armed with a stick, trying to avoid medical staff who were in pursuit.

The man escaped from Monrovia’s Elwa Hospital, which is overcrowded and struggling to provide Ebola patients with food and water.

Locals are both sympathetic and frustrated.

A Liberian woman said, “The patients are hungry, they are starving. No food, no water.”

Another Liberian, a man said, “we told the Liberian Government from the beginning, we do not want Ebola camp here. Today makes it the fifth Ebola patient coming outside vomiting and toileting.”

After a tense stand-off, the man was surrounded by medical personnel and a doctor, and is eventually bundled into an ambulance.

Liberia has the highest Ebola infection rate in this latest outbreak, with around 700 deaths out of more than 1300 suspected and confirmed cases.

Liberia Police Fire Live Bullets At Protesters

LIberia_ProtestersPolice in the Liberian capital, Monrovia fired  live rounds and tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break an Ebola quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood, as the death toll from the epidemic in West Africa hit 1,350.

At least four people were injured in clashes with security forces, witnesses said. It was unclear whether anyone was wounded by the gunfire.

Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease.

“The soldiers are using live rounds,” said army spokesman Dessaline Allison, adding: “The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens. There will be medical reports if (an injury) was from bullet wounds.”

The World Health Organization said that the countries hit by the worst ever outbreak of the deadly virus were beginning to suffer shortages of fuel, food and basic supplies after shipping companies and airlines suspended services to the region.

The epidemic of the hemorrhagic fever, which can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects, is ravaging the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country.

Bodies Dumped In Streets As West Africa Attempt To Curb Ebola

ebola 2The relatives of Ebola victims in Liberia resist government orders and dumped dead bodies in the street as West African government attempt to enforce measures to curb an outbreak of the virus that has killed at least 887 people.

Nigeria recorded its first death of Ebola in late July and according to the authorities in Lagos, eight people came in contact with the deceased Liberia-US citizen, Patrick Sawyer, were showing signs of the deadly disease.

The outbreak was detected in March in the remote forest regions of Guinea, where the death toll is rising in neighboring countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The authorities deployed troops to quarantine the border areas where 70 per cent of cases have been detected.

Those three countries announced a raft of tough measures last week to contain the disease, shutting schools and imposing quarantines on victim’s homes, amid fears the incurable virus would overrun healthcare systems.

In Liberia’s ramshackle ocean-front capital Monrovia, still scarred by a 1989-2003 civil war, relatives of Ebola victims were dragging bodies onto the dirt streets rather than face quarantine, officials said.

The Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said some people may be alarmed by regulations imposing the decontamination of victims’ homes and tracking of their friends and relatives.

With less than half of those infected surviving the disease, many Africans regard Ebola isolation wards as death traps.

They are therefore removing the bodies from their homes and are putting them out in the street and exposing themselves to the risk of being contaminated,” Brown said “We’re asking people to please leave the bodies in their homes and we’ll pick them up.”

According to Brown, authorities had begun cremating bodies on Sunday, after local communities opposed burials in their neighborhoods, and had carried out 12 cremations on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the border region of Lofa County, troops were deployed on Monday night to start isolating effected communities.

The Finance Minister said the country’s growth forecast for the year was no longer looking realistic as a result of the outbreak.

Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister, Samura Kamara, also said that the virus had cost the government $10 million so far and was hampering efforts to stimulate growth.
 

Liberia Shuts Schools, Quarantines Communities In Bid To Halt Ebola

ebola2Liberia announced on Wednesday the quarantine of a number of communities and the closure of schools across the country, the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the measures, part of an action plan that included placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.

As of July 23, 672 deaths have been blamed on Ebola in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organisation figures. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.

“This is a major public health emergency. It is 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.”

Referring to the orders issued to the security forces to impose the plan, he added: “We are hoping there will be a level of understanding and that there will not be a need for exceptional force.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Liberian health officials said that an isolation unit for Ebola victims in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, was overrun with cases and health workers are being forced to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes.

Protests by the local community against the construction of a new isolation unit at Elwa Hospital have ended, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant Minister of Health, but patients with Ebola symptoms will have to wait at home until work is finished.

“The staff here are overwhelmed. This is a humanitarian crisis in Liberia,” Nyenswah told Reuters by telephone. “People are being given care at their homes until we can move them to the new unit.”

Nyenswah said that the suspected patients were being treated by trained medical staff with full protective gear, but it would take at least 24-36 hours to build the new unit.

Initial resistance to building a new isolation unit highlighted the fear and mistrust health workers have faced across West Africa as they battle the outbreak, which has strained the region’s weak health systems.

Dozens of local health workers have died treating patients and two Americans working for Samaritan’s Purse, a U.S. charity operating in Liberia, were infected over the past week.

Samaritans Purse said on Wednesday that Kent Brantly, a doctor working for Samaritan’s Purse, and Nancy Writebol, a colleague who was also volunteering in Liberia, had shown a slight improvement but were still in serious condition.

The organization said that it was withdrawing non-essential staff from the country because of instability and security issues.

Ideye scores after Eagles’ recall

Dynamo Kyiv hit man, Ideye Brown is showing positive reasons for his Super Eagles recall by Coach Stephen Keshi as he netted his 9th goal of the season in the Ukrainian Premier League clash against Chornomorets falling 2-0 at the Olimpiysky sports complex on Saturday.

Ideye was invited last week by Keshi to join other Europe-based players invited for the Super Eagles’ clash against Liberia in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match next month.

Prior to Ideye’s last goal on Saturday, the former Sochaux hitman scored twice when they eliminated Dutch giants Feyenoord 3-1 on aggregate in the previous round of the UEFA Champions League making him the second in the Ukraine goal scorer’s chart with 7 league goals and 9 in all competitions with Henrikh Mkhitaryan occupying the number one spot with just 10 league goals and 14 overall which in no time Ideye may likely surpass with his recent form of play.

And ahead of Ideye and Dynamo Kyiv is the UEFA Champions League play-off round return leg clash against Borrusia Monchengladbach on Wednesday as he will be expected to put up an optimal performance in previous a game where Dynamo got a 3-1 away victory in the first leg in Germany.