Latest Updates / U.S. House Speaker Says Obama Should Consider Travel Ban to Fight Ebola

UN Security Council: World has failed to address Ebola; second Texas healthcare worker infected with Ebola; USAID says Ebola nations following right approach.

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Latest in-depth reporting from Haaretz: No, Ebola isn’t the ‘most severe health crisis,’ expert says (Ruth Schuster) | Why caretakers are catching Ebola: They’re making mistakes (Ruth Schuster)

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Click here for Tuesday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

1:56 A.M. Boehner says U.S. should consider travel ban from countries with Ebola

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama should "absolutely consider" a temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries suffering an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

"Today we learned that one individual who has contracted the virus flew to Ohio through the Cleveland airport in the last few days," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a statement.

"A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow," he said. (Reuters)

12:05 A.M. USAID says Ebola nations following right approach

A U.S. official touring the West African countries worst hit by the deadly Ebola virus expressed optimism Wednesday that the right strategies to fight the disease are in place, even as warnings mount over the deteriorating situation.

The World Health Organization warned that new cases are appearing at a rapid rate in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, though Nigeria and Senegal, which saw just a handful of cases are on the verge of being declared Ebola free.

The leaders of the affected countries are clearly committed to fighting the disease and with international help are taking the right approaches to stop the transmission of the virus, said the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development Rajiv Shah.

"The thing I learned is that the strategy is clear, the partners are aligned and now we have to focus on accelerating implementation and every day is a race to do more and get on top of the transmission," he told The Associated Press from the airport as he was leaving Sierra Leone and heading to Guinea. (AP)

10:52 P.M. American being treated for Ebola in Atlanta says he is recovering

An American treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta since Sept. 9 said on Wednesday he was recovering from the virus and expected to be discharged from the hospital soon.

The patient, who has not been identified, was working in Sierra Leone when he tested positive for the disease and was evacuated to the United States on a private chartered flight.

He disclosed the first public details of his condition in a statement released by Emory but said he wished to keep his identity secret for now.

"I want to share the news that I am recovering from this disease, and that I anticipate being discharged very soon, free from the Ebola virus and able to return safely to my family and to my community," the patient said.

The patient said he became critically ill with Ebola symptoms soon after arriving at Emory and credited his improved health to "rigorous medical treatment, skillful nursing and the full support of a healthcare team."

"I want the public to know that although Ebola is a serious, complex disease, it is possible to recover and return to a healthy life," the patient said.  

9:27 P.M. World has failed to address Ebola, UN Security Council says

The UN Security Council says the international community has so far "failed" to adequately address the growing Ebola crisis.

The press statement released Wednesday comes a day after the head of the United Nations mission for Ebola response warned the council that the world must meet critical goals by Dec. 1. If not, Anthony Banbury said, the world will "face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we don't have a plan."

The Security Council statement warns that Ebola is a threat to international peace and security, and it urges all U.N. member states and aid organizations to "accelerate and dramatically expand the provision of resources," including money.

This is the first time the United Nations has created a mission in response to a public health crisis. (AP)

8:47 P.M. Guinea's president calls for retired doctors to return in order to help fight Ebola

Guinea's president issued a call for retired doctors to return to work to help the impoverished country's overstretched health system fight the deadly Ebola outbreak.

President Alpha Conde's appeal, made late Tuesday, has already prompted some doctors to volunteer, however many health workers in the country have fled in fear of the disease, complaining of the lack of equipment to fight it.

"I heard the call of the president, but first he must properly equip the hospitals before asking us to come," said one retired doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. "I've lost many doctor friends who believed in the miracle of curing without equipment and they paid with their lives." (Reuters)

8:28 P.M. United Arab Emirates health ministry says it has isolated a passenger on a plane from Liberia to ensure he is free of Ebola symptoms. (Reuters)

8:21 P.M. WHO: Ebola death toll rises to 4,493 from a total of 8,997 confirmed, probable and suspected cases up to October 12 (Reuters)

8:17 P.M. CDC Director: Second infected healthcare worker should not have traveled on a commercial flight

The second healthcare worker infected with Ebola should not have traveled on a commercial flight, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.

Frieden added that passengers who shared the flight with the patient are at low risk, and the CDC would make sure in the future that others being monitored for Ebola would not be allowed to travel on commercial flights. (Reuters)

7:58 P.M. U.S. Health Secretary Burwell: Texas Ebola patient will be transferred to Atlanta's Emory Hospital today (Reuters)

7:55 P.M. Texas hospital says it is consulting with Emory Hospital in Atlanta to transfer the latest Ebola patient (Reuters)

7:51 P.M. Ohio Health Department: Tracing contacts of second diagnosed nurse who flew from Cleveland to Dallas

The Ohio Health Department is tracing contacts of the second nurse diagnosed with Ebola, who flew from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she reported symptoms. (Reuters)

7:16 P.M. Obama to convene high-level meeting about Ebola outbreak

U.S. President Barack Obama abruptly postponed a political trip he was to make on Wednesday to stay at the White House to convene a high-level meeting about the Ebola outbreak.

The White House said Obama's trip to New Jersey and Connecticut has been postponed.

"Later this afternoon, the president will convene a meeting at the White House of his team coordinating the government's response to the Ebola outbreak," spokesman Josh Earnest said.  Read full article here

The second Dallas nurse infected with Ebola had traveled by air the day before she reported symptoms, U.S. health officials say.

CDC says Amber Vinson, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, flew Frontier Airlines No. 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas-Ft. Worth and is asking all 132 passengers to call a hotline. (Reuters)

5:42 P.M. EU health ministers to consider screening travelers at airports for Ebola

European health ministers will consider screening travelers for the Ebola virus at airports across the EU when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.

Britain has already introduced entry screening as public concern has mounted about the spread of the disease from West Africa and the other 27 EU states could follow suit, an EU official said on Wednesday - although governments are free to set their own guidelines on health and medical issues.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, says it is still weighing up the effectiveness of entry screening, given that travelers are screened on departure from the affected areas and have a low probability of developing infectious symptoms between leaving an African airport and arriving in Europe.

The EU official said one key element of entry screening could be informing arriving passengers of what to do if they later fell ill - notably telling them not to turn up without warning at hospital after developing symptoms of Ebola. (Reuters) 

4:11 P.M. Liberia health care workers call off strike over Ebola hazard pay

Healthcare unions in Liberia called off a strike on Wednesday over pay and working conditions for medical staff tackling an epidemic of the deadly Ebola virus.

The strike, which began on Monday, garnered poor support and most hospitals and clinics in the West African country had been operating normally.

Liberia is the country hardest-hit by the outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever that has killed more than 4,400 people, mostly in three West African nations, including Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"We have called for the strike action to be called off on humanitarian grounds," said George Williams, secretary-general of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia.

"Our doors are open for negotiations at a later date...but as of now we call off the action based on numerous appeals from the Liberian people both home and the diaspora."  

4:01 P.M. More Ebola cases in Dallas 'very real possibility,' says county official

Dallas County authorities are anticipating more possible Ebola cases as a second nurse who had treated the first victim of Ebola diagnosed on U.S. soil was infected with the virus, a county official said on Wednesday.

"We are preparing contingencies for more, and that is a very real possibility," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county's chief political officer, said at a news conference with other local officials.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said city officials moved to clean affected areas after the nurse was diagnosed and to alert her neighbors in an apartment complex. "We rallied together and we decided to move quickly," said Rawlings, adding that he visited the complex earlier Wednesday. (Reuters) 

2:50 P.M. Facebook's Zuckerberg pledges $25 million to help fight Ebola

Mark Zuckerberg has pledged donating $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help fight the Ebola virus. Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced Tuesday on his official Facebook page that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, will make the donation.

“We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.”

“We are hopeful this will help save lives and get this outbreak under control,” Zuckerberg wrote. (JTA) 

12:08 A.M. Second Texas healthcare worker tests positive for Ebola

A second Texas healthcare worker who treated the first patient in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola has tested positive for the disease, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement on Wednesday.

The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, was immediately isolated after reporting a fever on Tuesday, the department said.

"Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," the department said. (Reuters)  

11:20 A.M. UN worker who died of Ebola cremated in Germany

The body of a UN employee who died of Ebola at a hospital in the German city of Leipzig has been cremated, a local official said on Wednesday. The patient's body was disinfected and placed in a special coffin before the cremation.

Officials are consulting with the UN and the German Foreign Ministry on what to do with the ashes. The 56-year-old Muslim man had been sent to St Georg hospital in Leipzig on October 9 for treatment after he contracted Ebola in Liberia. Although Islam forbids cremation, the procedure was carried out to ensure public safety. (DPA)

8:16 A.M. U.S. nursers say voice concern over Dallas hospital conduct

A national nurses' union says nurses at the Dallas hospital where an Ebola patient died worked for days without proper protective gear and with only loose guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

National Nurses United convened a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening to relay what its leaders said were concerns of nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died last week and a nurse is now infected.

Executive director RoseAnn DeMoro would not identify the nurses nor say how many had spoken out of concern for their jobs. She said the nurses allege specimens from the victim were sent through pneumatic tubes, potentially contaminating the entire lab specimen delivery system. (AP)

2:55 A.M. Obama to hold video conerence with European leaders on Ebola 

U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a video conference on Wednesday with British, French, German, and Italian leaders to discuss the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and other pressing international issues, the White House said. (Reuters)

1:12 A.M.  U.S. agency says infection of nurse could have been prevented

The top-disease fighting agency in the U.S. acknowledged Tuesday that an American nurse might not have been infected with Ebola if a special response team had been sent to Dallas immediately after a Liberian man there was diagnosed with Ebola.

Agency Director Tom Frieden outlined a series of steps designed to stop the spread of the disease in the U.S., including increased training for health care workers and changes at the Texas hospital where the virus was diagnosed to minimize the risk of more infections.

The announcement of the effort came after top health officials repeatedly assured the public over the last two weeks that they were doing everything possible to control the outbreak by deploying infectious-disease specialists to the hospital where a Liberian man was diagnosed with Ebola and later died.

"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient — the first patient — was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection. But we will do that from today onward with any case anywhere in the U.S.," Frieden said.

Frieden described the new response team as having some of the world's leading experts in how to care for Ebola and protect health care workers. They planned to review everything from how the isolation room is physically laid out, to what protective equipment health workers use, to waste management and decontamination. (AP)

12:30 A.M.  Infected Dallas nurse in "good conditon"

The Dallas nurse infected with Ebola is "in good condition," the hospital that is treating her, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said on Tuesday.

The hospital had previously said the nurse, Nina Pham, 26, was in stable condition. She was diagnosed with Ebola over the weekend after contracting the virus while caring for an infected Liberian man who died last week after 11 days of treatment at the facility. (Reuters)

12:22 A.M. Head of UN Ebola reponse mission "deeply worried" 

The head of the United Nations mission for Ebola response says the world must meet critical goals by December 1 "or face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we don't have a plan."

Anthony Banbury told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the current plan for fighting the deadly disease won't be enough for the future crisis if the goals aren't met.

He says that by December 1, at least 70 percent of people infected should be in treatment and at least 70 percent of burials should occur without contamination.
Banbury also says he is "deeply, deeply worried" that efforts so far will not be enough.

The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that West Africa could face up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months. (AP)

12:16 A.M. Obama defends conduct of top U.S. health official 

The Obama administration on Tuesday defended a top health official overseeing the U.S. response to Ebola following criticism over the handling of the first two patients diagnosed with the deadly virus in the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama remains confident in Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose agency is tasked with helping to contain the outbreak ravaging three West African countries and stop its spread to the United States, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a press briefing.

CDC played a key role in helping Texas officials handle the case of a Liberian man who fell sick with Ebola shortly after traveling to Dallas. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died last week and a nurse caring for him became infected with the virus.

"Dr. Frieden is a pre-eminent physician, somebody that has a lot of experience, not just in the medical profession, but also in the field of public health," Earnest said. "He is somebody who, in the last few months here has been working almost around the clock to ensure that our response is commensurate with the challenge that is posed here."

Several lawmakers, including Republican Senator John McCain, have said the administration should appoint a single "Ebola czar" to oversee a more coordinated response between the various government agencies involved. (Reuters)

12:11 A.M. Nine Doctors Without Borders staff dead from Ebola, 16 infected

Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday that 16 of its staff members have been infected with Ebola and that nine have died. The toll highlights the high risk of caring for Ebola patients even at well-equipped and properly staffed treatment centers. (AP)

12:05 A.M. Liberian minister in self-isolation after her driver dies of Ebola

Liberia's transport minister said she was voluntarily isolating herself inside her home after her driver died of Ebola. Angela Bush, Liberia's transport minister, said her last contact with her driver, who died over the weekend of the disease, was on October 3. She did not know he was sick with Ebola until after his death, she said.

She is not showing any symptoms of the disease, but Liberia's government has asked people to keep themselves isolated for 21 days if they think they have been exposed. The country's chief medical officer put herself under quarantine about two weeks ago, after her office assistant died of Ebola. (AP)