Latest Updates / Texas Ebola Patient Identified as 26-year-old Nurse

WHO calls outbreak 'most severe' health emergency in modern times; Spain defends Ebola repatriations; CDC blames 'protocol breach' for Dallas contagion.

Reuters

Click here for Sunday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

Latest updates:

2:10 A.M. The American video journalist being treated for Ebola in Nebraska is showing signs of improvement, family members and hospital officials said Monday.

Dr. Mitchell Levy told The Associated Press that his son, 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo, has been improving in recent days and currently has no symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Levy said everyone is "really, really pleased with his progress."

Mukpo contracted Ebola in West Africa. He arrived at Nebraska Medical Center on Oct. 6 after being flown back to the U.S. to be treated at the Omaha hospital's specialized unit.

Shelly Schwedhelm, nursing director of the hospital's biocontainment unit, said Mukpo is sitting up, eating food and drinking liquids. She also said he's conversing with staff. (AP)

1:52 A.M. Emergency crews in protective gear removed five passengers with flu-like symptoms from a commercial airliner that arrived at Boston's Logan Airport on Monday, but U.S. health authorities played down the possibility of Ebola.

Emirates flight 237 from Dubai landed at Logan around 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) and emergency medical workers escorted the ill passengers off the aircraft, authorities said.

Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Matthew Brelis said none of the ill passengers had recently been to West Africa, which is struggling with a deadly Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,000 people since March, but alarms were signaled after their arrival "out of an abundance of caution."

Brelis was unable to provide further details but a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said no Ebola threat had been reported to the agency by airport officials. (Reuters) 

12:30 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande on Monday about the urgent need to establish treatment centers for the Ebola outbreak in affected African nations, the White House said. (Reuters) 

11:45 P.M. Media reports and a church rector have identified the second Ebola patient in Texas as a 26-year-old nurse infected while caring for a man from Liberia.

WFAA-TV in Dallas reported that Nina Pham's family reached out to identify her as the nurse infected with Ebola. A rector at her family's church told The Associated Press that Pham's mother told him Pham has Ebola.

Officials say Pham wore protective gear as she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after he was diagnosed with Ebola and put in isolation. He died last week.

The graduate of Texas Christian University's nursing school was monitoring her own temperature and went to the hospital Friday night as soon as she found out she was running a low fever. She's now in isolation and in stable condition. It's the first known case of Ebola being transmitted within the U.S. (AP)

9:45 P.M. Up to 40 percent of farms have been abandoned in areas of Sierra Leone affected the worst by the Ebola outbreak, says Kanayo Nwanze, president of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development

Preliminary reports suggest that "trade volume in these markets is half of what it was at this time last year," said Nwanze. (AP)

9:30 P.M. Health workers went on strike Monday in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic, Health Minister Walter Gwenigale said.

They are demanding better pay and protective equipment during the outbreak of the often deadly haemorrhagic fever, radio reports said. In some parts of the country, all hospitals and clinics were reported to have closed down.

Nearly 100 health workers have died from Ebola in Liberia. The Health Workers' Association wants the government to pay the union's members a higher risk fee and reinstate two of its officials who were sacked from their jobs after calling a two-week strike in February.

The government has promised to pay nurses and doctors assistants working at regular hospitals 300 dollars a month in risk benefits while those working at Ebola treatment units are due to get 450 to 500 dollars. The benefits were due to start running in September but have yet to be paid.

Gwenigale said health workers would get adequate benefits but ruled out reinstating the two officials, and threatened to sack the strikers. (DPA)

7:48 P.M. 'There is no way to get risk in U.S. to zero' until the African outbreak ends, the Center for Disease Control's airport screening director says. (Reuters)

7:45 P.M. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with senior U.S. government officials on Monday for an update on the response to the Ebola case in Dallas and "broader efforts to ensure the preparedness of our national health infrastructure," the White House said. (Reuters)

6:07 P.M. Spain will ramp up training for health workers and emergency services dealing with Ebola cases, authorities said on Monday, as a nurse who caught the virus in Madrid after caring for infected patients remained seriously ill.

Recriminations are flying in Spain over whether hospitals were well enough prepared to deal with Ebola cases, after 44-year-old Teresa Romero last week became the first person in the current outbreak to catch the deadly virus outside Africa.

A broader training program is being developed, said healthcare academic Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo, who is part of a scientific committee advising the government.

"(It is for) doctors, nurses, nursing aides, security staff... police, firemen, anyone who has something to bring to the fight against this health problem," Rodriguez Artalejo told a news conference.

Romero's condition was still very serious and had not changed on Monday, he said, after officials on Sunday said there were smalls signs of improvement. (Reuters)

4:22 P.M. Spain's foreign affairs minister has defended the government's decision to repatriate two Spanish citizens who contracted the Ebola virus, after a nurse who treated them became the first person to contract it outside of Africa, the Guardian reported.

"The government did what it had to do," Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told El Pais newspaper, according to the Guardian. "The duty of a state is to protect its citizens - and even more so when they are in difficult circumstances far from Spain. All the developed countries who have had this problem have done the same." (Haaretz)

10:46 A.M. The World Health Organization's  says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is "the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times" but adds that economic disruptions can be curbed if people are adequately informed to avoid irrational moves to dodge infection.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, citing World Bank figures, said Monday that 90 percent of economic costs of any outbreak "come from irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection."

In her statement to a regional health conference in Manila, which was read by a WHO official, Chan says educating the public about any disease outbreak is a "good defense strategy." She praised the Philippines for holding an anti-Ebola summit last week. (AP)

10:02 A.M. Health officials are intensifying the monitoring of hospital workers who provided care to the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. after one of them was infected with the virus despite wearing protective gear.

Tests confirmed the first known case of Ebola transmitted in the nation, raising questions about assurances by health officials here that the disease will be contained and any American hospital should be able to treat it.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday that there had been a breach of protocol that led the worker to become infected while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but officials are not sure what went wrong. Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to visit family, did not get sick until he arrived in the U.S. He died Wednesday.

Liberia is one of the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 4,000 people, according to World Health Organization figures published Friday. The others are Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The worker who treated Duncan has not been identified. The worker has not been able to point to how the breach might have occurred.

President Barack Obama asked the CDC to move as quickly as possible to investigate the incident, the White House said.

Dallas police barred entry to the health care worker's apartment complex Sunday.

Officers also knocked on doors, made automated phone calls and passed out fliers to notify people within a four-block radius about the situation, although Dallas authorities assured residents the risk was confined to those who have had close contact with the two Ebola patients. (AP)

5:32 A.M. A man in Massachusetts who was being evaluated at a Boston hospital for a possible Ebola infection does not appear to have the deadly disease, officials at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said on Sunday night.

The patient, who recently returned from Liberia, had complained of headache and muscle aches, prompting his admittance to an isolation ward with close monitoring, the hospital said.

"This patient does not appear to meet CDC criteria to be considered someone at high risk for Ebola and the likelihood of Ebola Virus Disease is extremely low," the hospital said in a statement emailed to Reuters. (Reuters)  

1:33 A.M. An American video journalist being treated for Ebola continues to show improvement and is described by hospital officials as steadily heading in the right direction.

Taylor Wilson, spokesman for Nebraska Medical Center, said Sunday that doctors are pleased with 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo's progress and that he was better Sunday than the day before. He's described as weak but responding very well to treatment. (AP)

Sunday:

11:39 P.M. A medical clinic outside of Boston was quarantined and a patient has been isolated outside the hospital with a possible case of Ebola, the Boston Globe reported on Sunday.

Police, fire officials and emergency medical services have arrived at the Harvard Vanguard Medical Center in Braintree, Massachusetts, Joe Zanca, with the Braintree Fire Department, told the Globe.

"Ebola protocol is in place," Zanca said, noting that the patient in isolation recently traveled to West Africa. (Reuters)

11:15 P.M. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Sunday its test confirmed that a health care worker in Texas has tested positive for the Ebola virus.

The worker, who has not been identified, contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian who died of the disease at a Dallas hospital last week. The test confirms results of a lab in Austin, which said the worker had been infected. (Reuters)