We are assured by public health officials in the United States that Ebola is not transmitted in public places. Then we read this.
Monrovia (AFP) – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed a nighttime curfew from Wednesday and quarantined two affected neighbourhoods in a bid to stem the Ebola epidemic rampaging through West Africa.
“Commencing Wednesday, August 20 there will be a curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am (2100 to 0600 GMT),” Sirleaf said in a radio address late Tuesday.
“All entertainment centres are to be closed. All video centres are to be closed at 6:00 pm,” she ordered.
The new quarantine areas include Monrovia’s West Point slum.
So, if the disease is not transmitted in public places, why is the president of Liberia imposing a nighttime curfew? What does she know that we don’t? Maybe nothing. But the fact that she would do this indicates desperation. “I have to do something, so I’ll do this.”
What is the logic of this? Morning church is OK, but evening services are illegal. This is nuts. But it’s national policy in Liberia.
What if Ebola comes closer to home? What will governors and mayors do? Nutty things. Count on it. There will be little opposition.
WHO ARE MOST AT RISK? PHYSICIANS
The following information is not comforting.
In Nigeria, meanwhile, a senior doctor who treated the country’s first Ebola patient has died, taking the death toll in Africa’s most populous country to five, health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said on Tuesday.
Chukwu said Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, 40, was “the most senior who participated in the management of the (first Ebola) patient” in the country.
This is in Nigeria, where the population is large, and cities are large.
One carrier did this. The front line of defense is the medical profession. What happens if a physician becomes a carrier? What about his patients? Are they at risk?
Will the government quarantine physicians who treat Ebola carriers? If not, why not?
More bad news:
But, in a glimmer of hope, Brown said three doctors in Liberia who had been given the experimental US-made drug ZMapp were responding to the treatment.
Read between the lines. “Physicians who treat Ebola victims are likely to become infected. They are high-risk troops in this battle.”
What about their non-Ebola patients? Are they at risk? If not, why not?
Would I go to a physician who has been working with Ebola victims? Not a chance.
What about you?
You see the problem. If the state imposes a quarantine, it must especially quarantine physicians and healthcare volunteers. This would immediately reduce the supply of volunteers. But if the state does not quarantine them, why should it quarantine any other victims?
A UN BUREAUCRAT FLIES IN
Help is on the way.
The UN’s new pointman on Ebola, David Nabarro, will travel to West Africa Wednesday hoping to shore up health services in the four countries hit by the worst-ever outbreak of the virus.
What does “shore up” mean? How does one UN bureaucrat “shore up” plague centers?
The British physician will fly to Dakar late Wednesday before heading to Monrovia, Freetown, Conakry and Abuja, accompanied by Keiji Fukuda from the World Health Organisation.
Nabarro said he would focus on “revitalizing the health sectors” in the West African countries, many of which have only recently emerged from many years of devastating conflict.
The spreading virus is overwhelming inadequate public health services already battling common deadly diseases such as malaria.
How can outsiders revitalize — bring back life to — plague centers? Send in more volunteers? “We want you to volunteer, since the present staff members are dead or dying.” Recruiting may be difficult.
Then add this: “If you don’t die, you will be quarantined. We won’t know if you are a carrier. Also, your patients back home won’t know. This could reduce the number of patients.” You see the problem.
The UN bureaucrat won’t stay long, I predict. He does not want to contract Ebola.
Then he will return to UN headquarters. He will not be a carrier. We are assured of this. We are assured of this by public officials.
He will only do his observation in daylight hours. He will abide by the curfew, I am sure.
How well is the local quarantine working? Not very.
Efforts to contain the epidemic have also run up against local distrust of outside doctors, and stories of aid workers carrying the infection.
I don’t doubt it. That is because these workers are in fact likely to be infected. We have already read this earlier in this news story.
Such fears have often led to violence, with the raid on the medical facility in Monrovia’s West Point slum on Saturday the most dramatic example.
It gets worse.
President Sirleaf warned that local rituals were among the factors spreading the disease.
“We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural burying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government,” she bemoaned.
Then the disease is going to spread. A curfew will not stop this.
The quarantine has begun.
Quarantine cordons now limit travel to some of the most infected areas such as Gueckedou in Guinea, Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone and Foya in Liberia.
But with supplies cut, many of the one million people living in the zones are struggling to feed themselves, Chaib said, and the World Food Programme was now stepping in.
Countries throughout Africa and beyond are on high alert, with the Equatorial Guinea airline, Ceiba Intercontinental, the latest to suspend flights to the whole region.
Only three international airlines are still flying to Sierra Leone — Royal Air Maroc, Brussels Airlines and Air France.
Some Air France flight crews are refusing to board planes bound for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria over fears of the Ebola outbreak, the airline said Tuesday.
This is what quarantine means: isolation. The division of labor contracts. The economy collapses.
But not to worry. Ebola is being contained. Officials assure us of this. “No problem.”