Ebola: WHO lists 15 priority countries


163 people were on board the Air France plane which arrived in Madrid from Paris

163 people were on board the Air France plane which arrived in Madrid from Paris

By Shaun Gibson @ShaunyNews

The WHO has said it is focusing its attention on 15 countries to prevent the spread of Ebola, as the EU announced a review of its entry policies and the disease was reported in the last untouched area of Sierra Leone. Dr Isabelle Nuttall, the WHO’s global director, said on Thursday that cases were doubling every four weeks and that health officials were trying to prevent the disease spreading from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the worst-hit nations, to neighbouring countries and those with a strong travel and trade relationship.

Focus Countries:
Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, DR Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Nigeria, South Sudan and Togo

Nuttall said: “The objective is to stop the transmission from occurring in these countries. They may not have a case but after one case we don’t want more. These countries need to be better prepared.

“This week we will cross 9,000 cases of Ebola and 4,500 deaths. The outbreak continues to hit health workers hard. So far 427 health care workers have been infected with Ebola and 236 have died.” The statement came as Sierra Leone reported two infections in the northern area of Koinadugu, the last untouched district in the country, despite strict safety precautions and limited contact with the rest of the country.

The EU also announced that it was reviewing its screening controls for airline passengers leaving west Africa.

After an emergency meeting of EU health ministers, EU health chief Tonio Borg said the WHO and the EU would look into “conflicting reports” about whether the screening in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea was good enough.  As alarm grew outside Africa over the disease’s potential spread, an Air France plane was isolated at Madrid after a male passenger who had travelled from Lagos in Nigera reported a fever and shivers.

The 163 passengers and crew were kept aboard the plane until the passenger was taken to hospital. The Spanish health ministry said it was treating the incident as a suspected case of Ebola. The man was one of four suspected cases of the disease in Spain. In the US, meanwhile, disease control officials admitted they had allowed a nurse to fly home after treating an Ebola victim. She later fell ill with the disease.

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**BREAKING** Plane Isolated In Madrid Over Ebola Fears


A passenger on an Air France plane from Nigeria is taken to hospital after reportedly suffering a fever and shivers

Madrid Witness On Jet Isolation

Madrid Witness On Jet Isolation

By Shaun Gibson @ShaunyNews

An Air France plane has been isolated at an airport in Madrid after a passenger was reported to have a fever and shivers. The situation is being treated as a suspected case of ebola, a health ministry official was quoted as saying. There were 156 passengers on the flight from Paris, according to local officials and media reports.  Airports operator Aena and Air France said in separate statements that a passenger on Air France 1300 from Nigeria, via the French capital, had started shaking during the flight. The passenger, who had travelled from Lagos, was taken by ambulance to the Carlos III hospital.  Air France said the other passengers got off the plane, which will now be disinfected.

The return flight has been cancelled.  Danish authorities are testing a health worker from Doctors Without Borders for ebola, while a nurse in France is also being tested. The European Union has said it will launch an “immediate” review of exit screening in African countries hit by ebola. EU health chief Tonio Borg said the bloc, along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) will look into “conflicting reports” about whether the screening in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea is good enough and will decide whether to strengthen controls.

The possible new ebola patient arrives at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid

The possible new ebola patient arrives at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid

The death toll from the outbreak will rise to more than 4,500 this week, according to a top official from the WHO. Dr Isabelle Nuttall, director of the organisation’s global capacities, alert and response, said cases are doubling every four weeks. The WHO will also send teams of experts to test ebola-preparedness measures at Ivory Coast and Mali’s border with the countries affected by ebola. Spain’s government has stepped up its response to suspected ebola cases in the wake of a health scare when a nurse in Madrid became the first person outside Africa to become infected with the deadly virus. Teresa Romero, was diagnosed with the virus last week and is still seriously ill but stable. She cared for two infected priests repatriated from West Africa who later died.

A person who had been in contact with Ms Romero and was being monitored remotely for signs of the disease would be hospitalised, after developing a fever, Spanish authorities said. The person was one of 68 considered to have a low risk of catching ebola, and who have to check their temperature regularly from home. Another 15 people, including Ms Romero’s husband, are still under observation in Madrid’s Carlos III hospital where she is also being treated, but have displayed no symptoms.

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Frankfurt authorities prepare for Ebola – Is it about to get bad?


Are we ready for Ebola? It's a question the German media have been asking for weeks. Frankfurt Airport has come under particular scrutiny due to its size. But could Frankfurt really be an entry point for the disease?

Are we ready for Ebola? It’s a question the German media have been asking for weeks. Frankfurt Airport has come under particular scrutiny due to its size. But could Frankfurt really be an entry point for the disease?

Some of the taxi drivers at Frankfurt Airport feel helpless against the disease

Some of the taxi drivers at Frankfurt Airport feel helpless against the disease

Ebola continues to rage in Africa. So far, the virus has claimed more than 1,500 lives in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. But the deadly disease has stirred fears on the European continent as well, triggering a string of false alarms. With several airlines including British Airways and Air France cancelling flights to affected countries, European airports have been on the alert for weeks. As Germany’s biggest airport, Frankfurt has come under particular scrutiny. Over 58 million passengers pass through its sliding glass doors and terminals every year. The taxi drivers outside the airport’s international arrivals terminal are concerned that one of those passengers could be carrying the Ebola virus. “I often have a bad feeling about it,” one of them comments. “Every time I leave the airport here with passengers I always say: ‘May I ask where you’ve just come from?’ And then I can usually make up my own mind.” He says he has even considered wearing mouth protection. Two others say they have a duty to take people to where they need to go, and they don’t ask where people have just come from. “What can you do? That’s the way it is. We have to keep working,” says one, and takes a drag from his cigarette.

Emergency medical care

The taxi drivers have to depend on airport safety measures and on passengers from affected countries making sure they get checked for Ebola. But according to Bonn-based

René Gottschalk's team at the health authority meet daily to discuss Ebola measures

René Gottschalk’s team at the health authority meet daily to discuss Ebola measures

journalist Abu-Bakarr Jalloh, that is easier said than done. Jalloh recently returned from Freetown in Sierra Leone, where he had been in close contact with Ebola patients on a reporting assignment. He was feeling unwell and tried desperately to get a blood test to confirm he was Ebola-free. He was shocked by the response of medical staff.

“You go to the emergency clinic and you would sit there for hours and hours and tell them ‘Hey my case could be very serious, take it seriously.'” Even when he explained that he could be a carrier of the virus, he was told that emergency patients are the priority. “As long as you don’t look like you’re dying, you’re not a priority,” Jalloh said. Jalloh says the response he got to his case in Germany has made him think that “the measures that authorities in Europe and airliners are taking aren’t sufficient.”

Staff at the regional health authority in Frankfurt would surely disagree . Chief public health consultant René Gottschalk estimates that employees there have been spending around 30 percent of their time dealing with Ebola-related issues in recent weeks. Every day, Gottschalk and his team meet in the so-called “Ebola crisis management room” to prepare for a potential Ebola case. The team includes infectious disease specialists and a crisis management expert who liaises with the police and the fire brigade. The walls in the room are plastered with maps, health warnings and lists of emergency contacts, flight numbers and airports in Africa.

Of course, a large chunk of the Ebola-related work at the health authority currently consists of press requests regarding Frankfurt airport’s precautions. His team has been so overwhelmed that it has gone from answering individual requests to arranging larger-scale events for journalists. Gottschalk thinks that reporting on the disease hasn’t amounted to scare-mongering, but that the amount of reports has stoked fears. “People read, see and hear more than twice a day that Ebola is a problem in Germany. But it isn’t a problem.”

Red, yellow and green

Isolation ward 68 at Frankfurt's university hospital is prepared for Ebola patients

Isolation ward 68 at Frankfurt’s university hospital is prepared for Ebola patients

Gottschalk explains that there’s a clear procedure for the event that a passenger suspected of having Ebola comes to Frankfurt airport: The flight would land outside the airport grounds. Passengers on board would then be classified according to how likely they are to be carrying the virus, using a traffic light color-coding system.

“If a passenger is marked red, we will transport him directly from the aircraft to the university hospital. Passengers marked yellow will enter the airport in a specialized area. Only passengers marked green will enter the airport and travel on,” Gottschalk explains. The same marking procedure is used for other viral hemorrhagic fevers, such as Lassa fever, which are transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids rather than through the air. There was a suspected case of Ebola on a flight from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt on August 15, 2014. But the passenger had tested negative for Ebola before flying and was allowed to travel on after being examined on the plane. An elderly couple who had been on the same flight told DW they felt “the airport staff did a good job. We felt safe and had the feeling that they knew what they were doing.”

Isolating the virus

But if there were to be a case of the virus at the airport, an infected passenger would be taken directly to Frankfurt’s university hospital, for treatment in isolation ward 68. The two-bed ward there is sealed off from the rest of the hospital, using airlock doors and negative pressure in the room. Before entering, medical staff would put on sterile protective clothing, including an orange plastic overall, two pairs of gloves, rubber boots and head covering. A built-in hose blows filtered air into the hat and into the entire gown. That way, if the suit ripped, air would blow any potential bacteria out of the suit.

.Not a European battle

Timo Wolf, a consultant in infectious diseases who runs the ward, explains that doctors at the hospital train in the isolation ward every three months. Wolf says working in the gear is “very physically straining,” so staff need to

Staff in the isolation ward wear full-body protective gear

Staff in the isolation ward wear full-body protective gear

practice performing medical procedures in the full-body suits, which he says feel like hot, heavy, scuba-diving suits.

Such preparations are very necessary, Wolf believes. “I think it’s possible, if not likely, that in the next couple of weeks, we will be confronted with a suspected or maybe even a definite case of Ebola.” Frankfurt’s system is tried and tested, Wolf says. The ward has treated Lassa fever and had a SARS patient in 2003.

“I think that there’s no reason to be afraid of anything now in Europe. I think that in the long run, this game has to be won in Western Africa,” Wolf says