Latest Updates Ebola Death Toll Rises to Above 4,000, Says WHO

First Ebola vaccine trial starts on African soil; Hagel to discuss Ebola with Central and South American leaders; U.S. House Republicans release $750m in Ebola funds.

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A man walks past a billboard warning people of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia. Friday, Oct. 10, 2014.
A man walks past a billboard warning people of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia. Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Credit: AP

The first Ebola vaccine trial to be tested on African soil began Friday, as international efforts to contain the deadly epidemic continued.

The outbreak of the disease is the biggest global health challenge since the emergence of AIDS, a top U.S. health official said Thursday during an address at the World Bank. Over 4,000 people have been killed since the current outbreak began, the vast majority of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, tensions were high in Spain, as the first person to contract the virus outside of West Africa, a Madrid nurse, lay seriously ill.

Latest updates:

A teacher uses a thermometer to test the temperature of students, checking for possible Ebola fever at Adekunle primary school in Lagos, Nigeria, October 8, 2014.Credit: AP

Friday, October 10

10:38 P.M. A commercial airplane was being held on the tarmac of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Friday due to an Ebola scare involving two people, and a local hospital was readying itself to receive possible patients, a spokeswoman said. (Reuters)

8:10 P.M. The number of people known to have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record has risen to 4,033 out of 8,399 cases in seven countries by the end of Oct 8, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The death toll includes 2,316 in Liberia, 930 in Sierra Leone, 778 in Guinea, eight in Nigeria and 1 in the United States. The data include one case each in Spain and Senegal but no deaths. A separate Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 43 people out of 71 cases. (Reuters)

7:29 P.M. The UN special envoy on Ebola said the number of people contracting the deadly virus is probably doubling every three-to-four weeks, and the response needs to be 20 times greater than it was at the beginning of October.

David Nabarro warned the UN General Assembly on Friday that without the mass mobilization of the world to support the affected countries in West Africa, "it will be impossible to get this disease quickly under control, and the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever."

Nabarro said the UN knows what needs to be done to catch up to and overtake Ebola's rapid advance "and together we're going to do it." (AP)

6:45 P.M. The United Nations say that its appeal for $1 billion to respond to the West Africa Ebola outbreak was only 25 percent funded and a surge in trained healthcare personnel was also needed to help tackle the crisis.

"Of the $1 billion sought by UN agencies under (the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) consolidated appeal only one quarter has been funded," Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a UN General Assembly briefing on the Ebola outbreak. (Reuters)

6:23 P.M. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made a surprise visit Friday to the Madrid hospital where a nursing assistant infected with Ebola is being treated, trying to brush aside criticism from unions and opposition politicians alleging the national health care system provided substandard high-risk disease training and protective gear to doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel. (AP)

5:31 P.M. Seven more people have been admitted to a Spanish hospital unit monitoring possible Ebola cases where nurse Teresa Romero, the first person to contract the deadly virus outside West Africa, lay seriously ill on Friday.

With recriminations growing over how Romero became infected at the Madrid hospital, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it was extremely unlikely that the disease - which has already killed nearly 4,000 people in West Africa - would spread in Spain.

"Our first priority is Teresa Romero - she is the only person that we know has the illness," he told reporters on the steps of the specially-adapted Carlos III hospital, surrounded by medical staff.

A hospital spokeswoman said 14 people were now under observation or being treated, including Romero's husband.

Several medical personnel at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid have refused to treat certain patients, and others have resigned their posts, the Guardian reported. The hospital, according to a local nurse, was scrambling to contract additional personnel amid widespread fears of contagion, the report stated.

The seven new admissions late on Thursday included two hairdressers who had given Romero a beauty treatment before she was diagnosed, and hospital staff who had treated the 44-year-old nurse after she was admitted on Monday.

All had come voluntarily to be monitored for signs of the disease, although none of the 14 has so far tested positive for the disease except Romero, whose condition was described by the hospital as serious but stable.

Rajoy said he had set up a committee headed by the deputy prime minister to handle the crisis, five days after news first broke of Romero's infection.

Romero was infected in the hospital as she treated two Spanish missionaries who had caught the haemorrhagic fever in West Africa and she remained undiagnosed for days despite reporting her symptoms. On Friday, the nurse's husband could be seen staring out of the window of his hospital room, dressed in a blue surgical robe.

Concern has risen elsewhere in Europe after Macedonia said it was checking for Ebola in a British man who died there on Thursday, although authorities said it was unlikely he had the disease. A Prague hospital was testing a 56-year-old Czech man with symptoms of the virus. (Reuters)

1:31 P.M. Liberian lawmakers debated Friday whether to grant President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf more power to restrict movement and public gatherings in the fight against Ebola as one parliamentarian warned that the country could turn into a "police state."

State media said the House of Representatives would convene a special session Friday to discuss the proposed measures outlined in an Oct. 1 letter. The contentious proposals include the power to restrict public gatherings and appropriate property "without payment of any kind or any further judicial process" to combat Ebola.

The letter also says Sirleaf can "limit the right to assembly for any reason."

Sirleaf's government imposed a three-month state of emergency beginning Aug. 6, and a statement warned at the time that this would involve suspending some rights and privileges.

The new proposals, however, drew protest as soon as they were read out in a plenary session earlier this month. A headline in the newspaper Women Voices this week asked: "Tyrannical Times or Ebola Preventive Measures."

"I see a kind of police state creeping in," said lawmaker Bhofal Chambers, a one-time supporter of Sirleaf who has since joined the opposition camp. (AP)

10:57 A.M. Three people in Mali were injected with an experimental Ebola vaccine, the first such trial on African soil, the Health Ministry said Friday.

The volunteers were among 40 Malian health workers who agreed to participate in an international trial of the cAd3-EBO-Z vaccine, which was developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the eastern US state of Maryland.

The trial vaccine was previously tested on chimpanzees and was found to stimulate an immune response in the apes against the Ebola virus.

"We should be able to have very preliminary safety results and even some immunology results by the end of November," said Samba Sow, director general of the Center for Vaccine Development in the capital, Bamako.

It is expected to take several months before small amounts of the vaccine will be available, Sow said.

One volunteer, a 37-year-old pediatrician, said he decided to participate in the trial to help save lives. He was hoping to become immune to the Ebola virus, the unnamed doctor said, "because if we have a case of Ebola in Mali, I would want to be called to be involved in treating that person." (DPA)

10:55 A.M. A Spanish hospital official says the nursing assistant infected with Ebola is "stable," hours after authorities described her condition as critical.

A spokeswoman for the Carlos III hospital in Madrid said the patient, Teresa Romero, remained in serious condition Friday but could give no further details.

She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with hospital regulations. (AP)

5:35 A.M. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that he will discuss the growing threat from the Ebola virus with Central and South American leaders when they meet in the coming days.

Hagel's comments Thursday came amid concerns expressed by the top U.S. commander for Central and South America about the potential for the Ebola virus to spread into countries there.

U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly earlier this week said some countries in the Western Hemisphere don't have the capabilities to deal with Ebola. If there is an outbreak, he said people may try to flee into the United States.

Hagel says the world is getting more interconnected, and the virus can travel quickly, so military leaders must plan and prepare for any possibilities. (AP)

1:15 A.M. Six U.S. military planes arrived in the Ebola hot zone Thursday with more Marines, as West Africa's leaders pleaded for the world's help in dealing with "a tragedy unforeseen in modern times."

The fleet of planes that landed outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia consisted of four MV-22 Ospreys and two KC-130s. The 100 additional Marines bring to just over 300 the total number of American troops in the country, said Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the commander leading the U.S. response.

Williams joined the American ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, at the airport to greet the aircraft.

As vehicles unloaded boxes of equipment wrapped in green-and-black cloth, the Marines formed a line on the tarmac and had their temperatures checked by Liberian health workers. (AP)

Thursday, October 9

11:27 P.M. State health officials on Thursday said the Dallas County sheriff's deputy who exhibited symptoms of Ebola has tested negative for the disease.

Michael Monnig had gone to a health clinic Wednesday complaining of illness, days after he was among a group of deputies who went inside the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying.

Monnig did not have contact with Duncan, but did see some of Duncan's family members who are now in isolation. Duncan died Wednesday of the disease. (AP)

11:11 P.M. U.S. troops preparing for deployment to help fight Ebola in Liberia are trading their rifles and body armor for rubber gloves, gas masks and white germ-proof suits.

About 500 soldiers are undergoing training at Fort Hood in Texas ahead of their deployment to West Africa. As many as 3,900 American troops have been authorized to go the region.

Some soldiers acknowledged apprehension Thursday about focusing on a deadly disease rather than combat or counterterrorism. But they also expressed confidence that if any troops fall ill, U.S. doctors can successfully treat them. (AP)

8:48 P.M. French local official says suspicion of Ebola cases at building near Paris has been lifted. (Reuters)

8:38 P.M. About 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Thursday to protest what they say is a lack of sufficient protection from exposure to Ebola for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms. (Reuters)

8:37 P.M. French authorities seal off a building near Paris over suspected cases of Ebola, sources say. (Reuters)

8:35 P.M. U.S. House Republican lawmakers agree to release $700 million in additional funds to fight Ebola due to a Defense Department request, bringing the total to $750 million so far. (Reuters)

8:25 P.M. More than two dozen lawmakers want the United States government to ban travelers from the West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola virus until the outbreak is under control.

Twenty-three Republican and three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter released on Thursday to President Barack Obama asking the State Department to impose a travel ban and restrict visas issued to citizens of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In the letter, dated Oct. 8, they also asked U.S. health and border control officials to consider quarantine for anyone who arrives from the affected nations after being exposed to Ebola until 21 days have passed, the period in which they would show signs of the illness. (Reuters)

8:01 P.M. A British man suspected of contracting the Ebola virus has died in Macedonia, a senior Macedonian government official said on Thursday.

A second Briton had shown symptoms of the virus, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. (Reuters)

7:36 P.M. Britain said on Thursday it would start screening passengers entering the country through London's two main airports and the Eurostar rail link with Europe for possible cases of the Ebola virus. Read full story

7:13 P.M. African leaders chided the international community on Thursday for its slow response to the Ebola crisis and appealed to the world to turn promises of aid into action on the ground.

In emotional appeals to a high-level meeting of major donors gathered at the World Bank, the leaders of the worst affected countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, said they needed everything from treatment centers to healthcare workers, equipment and funding.

"Our people are dying," Sierra Leone's President Ernest Koroma told the meeting in Washington via video conference. "Without you we can't succeed, without your quick response a tragedy unforeseen in modern times will threaten the well-being and compromise the security of people everywhere," he said. (Reuters)

5:56 P.M. The World Health Organization adjusted its number on Thursday for the total death toll in the West African Ebola outbreak, revising down its previous total by 14 after an adding error.

The WHO said 3,865 people had died by the end of Oct 5, not 3,879 as it said on Wednesday. The figures represent the total of Ebola deaths notified by the countries hit by the virus, but the WHO says the figures are under-reported and the true totals are much higher. (Reuters)

5:10 P.M. The Ebola outbreak is the biggest global health challenge since the emergence of AIDS, a top U.S. health official said Thursday during an address at the World Bank.

"In the 30 years I've been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS," said Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (DPA)

3:11 P.M. The U.S. military was ramping up its aid efforts in Ebola-wracked Liberia on Thursday, even as yet another doctor working in the country died after becoming infected.

"Two different flights of MV-22 Osprey and KC-130 aircraft, along with U.S. Marines, will arrive to support the whole-of-government effort to contain Ebola," U.S. Army Capt. R. Carter Langston told The Associated Press in an email. They were to land later Thursday at Roberts Airfield outside the Liberian capital, Monrovia. The U.S. military is working to build medical centers in Liberia and may send up to 4,000 soldiers to help with the Ebola crisis. (AP)

2:54 P.M. The health of the 44-year-old Spanish nurse with Ebola has worsened, a hospital official said on Thursday, without giving further details.

"Her clinical situation has deteriorated but I can't give any more information due to the express wishes of the patient," said Yolanda Fuentes, an official at the Carlos III hospital where six people including the nurse, Teresa Romero, are in isolation. (Reuters)

11:42 A.M. A medical official with the UN Mission in Liberia who tested positive for Ebola arrived in the German city of Leipzig on Thursday to be treated at a local clinic with specialist facilities, authorities said.

The unidentified medic infected in Liberia is the second member of the UN mission, known as UNMIL, to contract the virus. The first died on September 25. He is the third Ebola patient to arrive in Germany for treatment. (AP)

11:31 A.M. Health officials say two doctors who treated a Spanish nursing assistant diagnosed with Ebola have been admitted to a Madrid hospital for precautionary observation, bringing to six the number being monitored at the center.

A spokeswoman for the Carlos III hospital said Thursday neither of the doctors, nor the woman's husband — who is also under observation — has shown Ebola symptoms. (AP)

2:35 A.M. Hospitals in Dallas have set up Ebola isolation wards and revamped procedures to deal with new patients, as the sprawling Texas city waits to see if the deadly virus spreads following the first case diagnosed on U.S. soil.

Some 48 people are being monitored by health officials in Dallas after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting family in Dallas, came down with the disease in late September. He died early on Wednesday, hospital officials said. (Reuters)

12:39 A.M. The worst outbreak of Ebola on record can be contained if countries quickly build and staff treatment centers in West African nations hardest hit by the deadly virus, the United Nations Ebola response coordinator said on Wednesday.

"If we can reduce the number of people who are passing on their infection to others by about 70 percent, then the outbreak will come to an end," Dr. David Nabarro, the senior UN coordinator for the international response to Ebola, told Reuters.

"If, on the other hand, people continue to be able to transmit the virus to others when they have been ill, then the outbreak will continue and continue growing at the rate it is." (Reuters)

12:37 A.M. The United States said on Wednesday it will begin enhanced screening of travelers from West Africa arriving at five of the country's largest airports as it increases efforts to prevent the spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak.

The enhanced screening will start at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday and be extended next week to Newark Liberty in New Jersey, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

Combined, those airports receive more than 94 percent of travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by Ebola, with JFK accounting for nearly half of them, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

About 150 travelers from the West African countries arrive at the five airports each day, a tiny portion of the total number of international travelers at the five airports. (Reuters)

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