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Health workers strike at Sierra Leone Ebola hospital
30 Aug 2014 at 12:17pm
Health workers have gone on strike at a major state-run Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone, over pay and poor working conditions, hospital staff told Reuters on Saturday. Sierra Leone's government is struggling to cope with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, that has killed more than 1,550 people across West Africa, with the rate of infection still rising. "The workers decided to stop working because we have not been paid our allowances and we lack some tools," said Ishmael Mehemoh, chief supervisor at the clinic in the city of Kenema, in the country's east. Clothing to protect health workers being infected is inadequate and there is only one broken stretcher which is used to carry both patients and corpses, Mehemoh added.
California governor lauds passage of 'historic' sick leave bill
30 Aug 2014 at 10:45am
By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - A measure to grant California workers mandatory sick leave that passed the state legislature early on Saturday appeared poised to become law after Governor Jerry Brown lauded it as a historic achievement. The bill would require employers to provide at least three days of annual paid sick leave to workers, who would accrue the time off at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked. If Brown signs the measure into law, California will join Connecticut as the only states mandating paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Business groups have mostly opposed efforts to impose mandatory paid sick leave, saying that they could force businesses to pare back work forces and raise prices.
Celebration in Liberia slum as Ebola quarantine lifted
30 Aug 2014 at 10:05am
By James Harding Giahyue and Saliou Samb MONROVIA/CONAKRY (Reuters) - Crowds sang and danced in the streets of a seaside neighborhood in Liberia on Saturday as the government lifted quarantine measures designed to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Faced with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, West African governments have struggled to find an effective response. More than 1,550 people have died from the hemorrhagic fever since it was first detected in the forests of Guinea in March. Residents of the impoverished seaside district of West Point in Monrovia were forcibly cut off from the rest of the capital in mid-August after a crowd attacked an Ebola center there, allowing the sick to flee.
Ebola takes big toll on already poor health care
30 Aug 2014 at 8:19am
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) ? When the dreaded Ebola virus began infecting people in the Sierra Leone town of Kenema, Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan and his team were on the front lines. After stepping out of his protective suit following hours on a sweltering ward, he would jump on the phone to coordinate with the Ministry of Health, to deal with personnel issues and tend to hospital business.
Liberian Ebola survivor praises experimental drug
30 Aug 2014 at 8:13am
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) ? A Liberian health worker who recovered from Ebola after receiving an experimental drug urged the manufacturer to speed up its production and send it to Africa, while crowds celebrated in the streets Saturday after authorities reopened a slum that had been barricaded for more than a week to try to contain the disease.
New Novartis drug may upend heart failure treatment
30 Aug 2014 at 8:03am
By Ben Hirschler BARCELONA (Reuters) - A new medicine from Novartis could replace drugs that have been central to treating heart failure for a quarter of century, after proving remarkably effective in reducing deaths in a keenly awaited study. ?Given the survival advantage of LCZ696 over currently available drugs, once this drug becomes available, it would be difficult to understand why physicians would continue to use traditional (drugs) ... for the treatment of heart failure," said Milton Packer of the University of Texas. There has been little progress for more than a decade in treating chronic heart failure, in which the heart fails to pump enough blood around the body, so there is excitement about the new medicine among both doctors and investors. ESC officials flagged the PARADIGM-HF trial as a highlight of the five-day event in Barcelona and Piotr Ponikowski of the Medical University of Wroclaw, who was not involved in the trial, urged a fast-track review of treatment guidelines given the "striking" finding.
Liberia's international airport battles to contain Ebola
30 Aug 2014 at 7:50am
With the last rays of sunlight speckling the departures area at Liberia's international airport, passengers queue patiently to go through medical screening designed to show up the Ebola virus. Roberts International Airport, a former United States Air Force base built 55 kilometres (35 miles) outside of the capital Monrovia during World War II, is at the front line of a new battle -- to halt the spread of the most deadly outbreak of the tropical fever in history. "We put so many processes in place that... focus on the safety of the airline, safety of the crew, safety of the passengers, and most importantly to boost the confidence of those who use our airport," says Binyah Kessely, director of the board at the Liberia Airport Authority. Kessely's job -- once simply to ensure the smooth running of the airport -- is now to help contain an epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa this year.
WFP says it needs $70 mln to feed 1.3 mln people in Ebola quarantine
30 Aug 2014 at 7:18am
The World Food Programme needs to raise $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk from shortages in Ebola-quarantined areas in West Africa, with the agency's resources already stretched by several major humanitarian crises, its regional director said. WFP's West Africa Director Denise Brown said the organisation was currently providing food for around 150,000 people in Ebola-striken nations but needed to rapidly scale that up as the worst ever epidemic of the virus advanced. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have pledged to impose a 'cordon sanitaire' on the most affected communities in their joint border region, restricting travel to and from the areas and limiting their access to food supplies. "We've agreed this morning...that we need to extend that because WHO is already talking about 6-9 months before this is contained." Brown said the WFP would look from donations from major donors like the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and Japan, as well as from non-traditional benefactors such as Arab states.
Boston Scientific nerve device no help in heart failure study
30 Aug 2014 at 6:19am
By Ben Hirschler BARCELONA (Reuters) - A Boston Scientific device that stimulates the vagus nerve ? a superhighway connecting the brain to the rest of the body - failed to help patients with heart failure in a mid-stage clinical trial. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which involves delivering mild electrical pulses to the nerve in the neck, is already used to treat epilepsy and depression - and researchers have been looking to expand its use to other conditions. Heart failure is a serious, progressive disease in which the heart fails to pump blood properly. Patients enrolled in the study had a VNS device implanted in their neck, near the right vagus nerve.
WFP says it needs $70 million to feed 1.3 million people in Ebola quarantine
30 Aug 2014 at 6:11am
The World Food Programme needs to raise $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk from shortages in Ebola-quarantined areas in West Africa, with the agency's resources already stretched by several major humanitarian crises, its regional director said. WFP's West Africa Director Denise Brown said the organization was currently providing food for around 150,000 people in Ebola-striken nations but needed to rapidly scale that up as the worst ever epidemic of the virus advanced. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have pledged to impose a 'cordon sanitaire' on the most affected communities in their joint border region, restricting travel to and from the areas and limiting their access to food supplies. "We've agreed this morning...that we need to extend that because WHO is already talking about 6-9 months before this is contained." Brown said the WFP would look from donations from major donors like the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and Japan, as well as from non-traditional benefactors such as Arab states.
Liberia adds new Ebola centers as tries to contain virus outbreak
30 Aug 2014 at 5:09am
By Misha Hussain DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Liberia is building five new Ebola treatment centers each with capacity for 100 beds as it struggles to contain the spread of world?s biggest outbreak of the deadly disease, government and health officials said on Saturday. The hemorrhagic fever has killed more than 1,500 people and infected over 3,000 in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal since March and there is currently no widely available vaccine or cure but early treatment can save lives. World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Francis Kasolo said Liberia was the worst hit country in west Africa, with nearly 700 deaths among about 1,500 cases, and increasing the number of beds in coming weeks would ease the pressure in the country's congested hospitals. "The idea is to create five different treatment centers that can accommodate up to 100 beds each.
Morocco keeps flying to Ebola-hit states in 'solidarity'
30 Aug 2014 at 4:45am
Morocco, the last country to maintain regular scheduled flights to Ebola-hit nations after Air France halted departures, is carrying on through "solidarity", an airline official has said. In a bid to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa, many African governments have sought to ring-fence Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. This week, after Air France announced it would stop flying to Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was "absolutely vital" that airlines resume flights because bans were hindering the emergency response. The French carrier's move followed a similar decision by British Airways which said it was stopping its flights to Freetown and Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, until next year.
Experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cures 100 percent of lab monkeys
30 Aug 2014 at 1:42am
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cured all 18 of the lab monkeys infected with the deadly virus, including those suffering the fever and hemorrhaging characteristic of the disease and just hours from death, scientists reported on Friday. No other experimental Ebola therapy has ever shown success in primates when given that long after infection; ZMapp, produced by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has never been scientifically tested in people, and the current study was the first in primates. The success is therefore a "monumental achievement," virologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch wrote in a commentary on the paper, published online in Nature.
Ebola hits fifth W. African state as Senegal confirms first case
30 Aug 2014 at 1:40am
The Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa spread to a fifth country in the region on Friday with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal. The case marks the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since July and comes a day after the World Health Organization warned the number of infections was increasing rapidly. On Friday, scientists writing in the journal Nature said 18 lab monkeys given high doses of the Ebola virus fully recovered after being given the prototype drug ZMapp, which reversed bleeding in the animals. ZMapp has been given to a handful of frontline health workers who have contracted Ebola, two of whom have recovered, and two of whom have died.
Sierra Leone dismisses health minister over handling of Ebola
30 Aug 2014 at 1:01am
FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma dismissed his Health Minister Miatta Kargbo on Friday over her handling of the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 400 people in the West African country. A presidency statement said that Kargbo was removed "to create a conducive environment for efficient and effective handling of the Ebola outbreak". She will be replaced by her deputy Dr Abubakarr Fofanah, the statement said.