Connect with us

World

Liberia Cautiously Marks End of Ebola with 4,700 Deaths

Published

on

In this photo taken on Friday, May 8, 2015, Mercy Kennedy, left, sits with her caregiver  Martu Weefor, right, after school at her home in Monrovia, Liberia. On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time Liberia would be free of one of the world’s deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old’s neighborhood, killing people house by house. Now seven months later, Liberia on Saturday officially marked the end of the epidemic that claimed more than 4,700 lives here, and Mercy is thriving in the care of a family friend not far from where she used to live. (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

In this photo taken on Friday, May 8, 2015, Mercy Kennedy, left, sits with her caregiver Martu Weefor, right, after school at her home in Monrovia, Liberia. (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

Jonathan Paye-Layleh and Krista Larson, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time when Liberia would be free from one of the world’s deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old’s neighborhood, killing people house by house.

Neighbors were so fearful that Mercy, too, might be sick that no one would touch her to comfort her as tears streamed down her face. She had only a tree to lean on as she wept.

Now seven months later, Liberia on Saturday officially marked the end of the epidemic that claimed more than 4,700 lives here, and Mercy is thriving in the care of a family friend not far from where she used to live.

“What we went through here was terrifying,” said Martu Weefor, 39, who is now raising Mercy alongside her three biological children and Mercy’s older brother. “Nobody wanted to pass on our road or have anything to do with us, everybody was afraid of the community. I thank God that Liberia is free from Ebola.”

Saturday marks 42 days since Liberia’s last Ebola case — the benchmark used to declare the outbreak over because it represents two incubation periods of 21 days for new cases to emerge. The World Health Organization on Saturday called the milestone a “monumental achievement for a country that reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest, and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.”

The statistics of loss, though, are enormous in Liberia: 189 health workers dead. Some 3,290 children lost one or both parents to the disease, though most have been placed with other relatives or in foster care.

While praising the international community’s help in getting Liberia to zero cases, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Saturday criticized the slow initial response to the epidemic in West Africa that cost many lives.

“This Ebola outbreak is a scar on the conscious of the world. For some the pain and grief will take a generation to heal,” she said. “Therefore, let today’s announcement be a call to arms that we will build a better world for those Ebola could not reach … It is the least the memories of our dearly departed deserve.”

Elsewhere in West Africa, new cases were still being reported this week in both Sierra Leone and in Guinea, where five of the new victims were only diagnosed after death. The fact they had never even sought treatment for Ebola means health officials lost critical time to track their relatives and other contacts.

“It’s important to remember the next case is only a canoe ride away across the river or across a forest path, so we still have an element of risk here and we all need to be very conscious of that,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Representative in Liberia, who emphasized that the recovery needs also remain enormous.

At the height of the crisis back in August and September, Saturday’s milestone seemed far from reach. Liberia had between 300 and 400 new cases every week. People pushed victims in wheelbarrows down the streets of Monrovia, with only cheap plastic bags to protect their sandaled feet from possible exposure to Ebola. Scores of people too sick to stand waited outside Ebola treatment centers with the hope that enough people had died overnight so there would be beds for them and a chance at life.

The disastrous epidemic in Monrovia and the capitals of Guinea and Sierra Leone marked the first time the Ebola virus had infiltrated major urban areas where it could spread quickly through densely populated, impoverished neighborhoods. The outbreak caused its first deaths in December 2013 but only made headlines in March 2014 in Guinea before soon spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Worldwide panic heightened in late September when a man from Liberia tested positive for Ebola in the United States while visiting relatives in Texas. The disease also broke out in Senegal, Mali and Nigeria where officials managed to quickly isolate and quash their Ebola cases but the virus became deeply entrenched particularly in Liberia’s capital. Ultimately, social mobilization helped turn the tide.

“Communities here did the right thing: They isolated people who were sick, they reported people who were sick. Every street corner had stations for washing hands, and this made a difference,” Yett said.

Many of the treatment centers built with help from the United States finished construction after the height of the epidemic — some of the tarp and wood constructed facilities will be repurposed but many will be taken down. Communities scarred by the looming threat of death can’t imagine visiting them even months later, even if the clinics never treated a single Ebola case, experts say.

“Even today (when) we hear an ambulance siren, we have to shake a little bit, seeing if this normal or are we facing something again,” Liberia’s president said recently at an event marking the end of an American-built Ebola treatment center for exposed health workers.

There are also concerns about the long-term effects on survivors, including questions about how long the virus remains present in the body. On Friday, WHO updated advice and testing guidelines for male survivors of Ebola because of the “strong possibility” that the virus could be spread through sex months later.

And medical study this week found Ebola inside the eye of a patient months after the virus was gone from his blood. Tears and tissue around the outside of the eye, though, did not. That suggests it poses little public health risk, experts said.

It’s been nearly a year since Korlia Bonarwolo helped care for a co-worker at Redemption Hospital who later died from Ebola. The physician’s assistant had no protective suit and no special gloves.

The 26-year-old ultimately got treatment in the country’s first Ebola treatment center and now leads a network of more than 800 survivors across Liberia. He too was marking Saturday cautiously.

“We should instead be happy in our hearts,” said Bonarwolo, “and pray for the other countries to be freed.”

___

Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

###

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Bay Area

Port of Oakland Aims to Help Agriculture Producers Export Products More Quickly

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement. The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

Published

on

The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)
The Port of Oakland and the Oakland skyline in the late 2010s. (Photo courtesy the Port of Oakland/Kelly Patrick Dugan)

By Keith Burbank, Bay City News

The flow of agricultural exports may improve at the Port of Oakland after it sets aside quick-access space for containers, assists exporters, and if more cargo carriers restore service to Oakland, port officials said Monday.

Twenty-five acres will be used to operate an off-terminal, paved yard to store containers for rapid pick-up following their removal from chassis.

The yard, which may open in March, will allow trucks to turn around more quickly than is currently possible in the terminal. Agricultural exporters will also get help using the yard from state and federal agencies.

“The Port — along with our federal and state partners — is ready to do everything we can to help provide room and relief to help our agricultural customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan in a statement.

The yard is just one step the Port is taking to help agriculture exporters who have had fewer containers in Oakland with which to export their products.

But it’s not entirely clear the yard will make a huge difference unless more ships stop at the Port to pick up the exports.

“We need the shipping companies to immediately restore the export lines from Oakland to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said.

Port officials have restored one key route to Tokyo and China. Also, four carriers have recently made Oakland their first stop en route from Asia. But that may not be enough to relieve the shortage of export containers in Oakland.

An import surge in the U.S. has ships waiting to offload cargo in Southern California. When they do, they offload cargo that would typically come to Oakland and then turn around and immediately go back to Asia.

The containers that could be used for exports never make it to Oakland.

Port cargo volume is typically 50% imports and 50% exports so usually enough containers exist at the Port.

Many agricultural exporters and meat producers prefer to ship their products through Oakland because it’s closer than other ports.

The container shortage has been a problem for a year. The problem recently prompted a meeting between farm producers, transportation executives and Port officials and resulted in the steps the Port is now taking.

A solution is important because the state’s agricultural export industry is worth billions of dollars.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

California Goes on Offensive as Omicron Variant Threat Grows 

“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Dec. 1. “We should assume that it’s in other states as well. There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”

Published

on

In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.
In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Three days after Thanksgiving, Gov. Gavin Newsom went online to address the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, a version of the virus with at least 50 mutations, according to the World Health Organization.

Twenty-six of those mutations have never been detected before, scientists say.

“California is monitoring the new variant,” Newsom tweeted. “We will continue to be guided by data and science. Right now, the best way we know to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and get your booster. Go today. Don’t wait.”

The variant was first identified by a South African scientist and has since surfaced in several other Southern African and European nations and has now been detected in at least 16 states in the United States, including California.

In California, the Omicron variant was first detected in San Francisco on December 1.

Since then, Alameda County public health officials have confirmed five new cases with mild symptoms. All of them were people who attended a wedding in Wisconsin where they likely contracted the virus.

Newsom responded to the news with a tweet last Wednesday.

“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California,” Newsom tweeted Dec. 1. “We should assume that it’s in other states as well. There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”

Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, said the state has taken several steps to protect Californians and contain the variant, including “doubling down on COVID-19 vaccination and booster efforts to ensure that all Californians have access to safe, effective and free vaccines.”

Weber was speaking at a briefing organized for Black media on December 3. She said the California Department of Health is monitoring the presence of the variant throughout California and is partnering with the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support local public health departments and health care providers across the state.

“The state is also preparing to increase COVID-19 testing at airports across California for U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi,” she said. “These countries are where higher rates of Omicron have been observed and may shift over time.”

Last week, President Joe Biden also pushed for vaccines and boosters in preparation for this new variant on Twitter.

“As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises. For now, the best way to strengthen your protection if you’re already vaccinated is to get a booster shot, immediately,” Biden tweeted.

In a controversial move, Biden has issued a travel ban from eight African countries where the higher numbers of the variant have been reported.

“The WHO has identified a new COVID variant which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure, until we have more information, I am ordering air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries,” Biden tweeted.

This United States’ response has been met with some criticism from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said, arguing that the variant may have been detected in those countries, but there is no proof that it originated there.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Continue Reading

Commentary

COMMENTARY: Muslims in France Face Worsening Climate of Hate Under Leadership of President Macron

For France, which colonized Algeria for more than a century, the idea that people from the former colonies should live the life they want seems unbearable. Many white French people seem to have a fear that those from the former colonies may want to treat the descendants of the European French in the same way that the colonial masters treated us. Assuming always the worst for its Muslim citizens says a lot about the country and its beliefs.

Published

on

A demonstration in France by Muslims protesting their treatment under President Macron in 2020.
A demonstration in France by Muslims protesting their treatment under President Macron in 2020.

By Larbi Ben Krima

Editor’s Note: We are accustomed to hearing travel advisories telling us to avoid countries in the midst of civil war or government repression. Last month a Muslim civil rights organization warned Muslims not to travel to a country that many consider to be the birthplace of liberty. The author of this article, a French citizen, explains how France has become an oppressive place for Muslims.

I was born and raised in France to an Algerian family. I, like millions of other French citizens, heard about colonization and the mistreatment it created. There was some progress made, and now, piece by piece, that is being erased.

One year ago, in October 2020, French President Macron decided to launch his 2022 re-election campaign with a speech targeting Muslim people. He used terrorism as an excuse. Everybody in France knew it was really about politics, although the citizens of the world did not know that.

Macron’s government followed up by dissolving organizations that had criticized his Islamophobic government.

Schools, humanitarian NGO’s, mosques, publishing offices, and civil right movements with Muslim participants have been shut down by a government looking for Far Right votes in the next election.

France is still pretending to fight for rights around the world, but these rights are never really applied to its Muslim citizens, who are always seen as a Fifth Column and who always have to prove that they are French enough.

Every Muslim act is seen as a danger to the country. It seems that Muslim prayers threaten the French republic; Muslim food is seen as a challenge to the religion of other French people; and Muslim clothes are seen as an attempt to change France’s way of life. Most religions have special foods, and prayers and clothing. Having these customs should not be made so difficult for us after all these years. What’s the big deal?

For France, which colonized Algeria for more than a century, the idea that people from the former colonies should live the life they want seems unbearable. Many white French people seem to have a fear that those from the former colonies may want to treat the descendants of the European French in the same way that the colonial masters treated us. Assuming always the worst for its Muslim citizens says a lot about the country and its beliefs.

That may explain why this country, which refuses to take accountability for its colonial past, can’t accept the kids who are born and raised here.

Quoting the world-famous psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon, “It should not be said that such and such a country is racist, but there are no lynchings or extermination camps there. The truth is, all of this and something more is on the horizon.”

We can say that racism runs deep in France’s institutions and politics, cheered on by the media, with applause from a substantial group who likes what they are hearing.

This is a country where an openly racist media pundit has growing support in his campaign for president, just as Donald Trump did.

France, which always despised the USA, has now became one of the United States of Islamophobia, along with China and India.

A former great country, known for its ideals, France has used its former glory around the world. Recently, the world has come to know what a very small country France has actually become a country that should stop preaching to others what it obviously refuses to apply to itself.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending