The man who brought the Ebola virus to Nigeria probably knew he was infected. Surveillance video of Patrick Sawyer before boarding his flight at Liberia's James Sprigg Payne’s Airport showed "Mr. Sawyer lying flat on his stomach on the floor in the corridor of the airport and seemed to be in 'excruciating pain.' The footage showed Mr. Sawyer preventing people from touching him."
He collapsed upon arrival in Nigeria, after a layover in Togo and was rushed to a Nigerian hospital. Upon being told he had Ebola, he acted with what the Nigerians called "indiscipline"; a burst of rage and despair against the world and everyone in it.
Upon being told he had Ebola, Mr. Sawyer went into a rage, denying and objecting to the opinion of the medical experts. “He was so adamant and difficult that he took the tubes from his body and took off his pants and urinated on the health workers, forcing them to flee.
Amazingly, he was even then in the process of being sprung by his political connections before death intervened. Had he lived Sawyer might have gotten out and protected by the juju of expensive watches and status symbols, mingled among the muckety-mucks of ECOWAS.
"The hospital would later report that it resisted immense pressure to let out Sawyer from its hospital against the insistence from some higher-ups and conference organizers that he had a key role to play at the ECOWAS convention in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
In fact, FrontPageAfrica has been informed that officials in Monrovia were in negotiations with ECOWAS to have Sawyer flown back to Liberia.
Eight of the Nigerian hospital workers are now infected with Ebola, including the doctor who attended Sawyer. One, a nurse, has already died. The Liberian president, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, apologized to Nigeria for the incident. She said "Patrick Sawyer was on surveillance, but he sneaked out of Liberia". Sneaked out, presumably, to hobnob with the big shots of the region.
Ken Isaacs of Samaritan's Purse told a Congressional Hearing that the WHO is underreporting the Ebola epidemic. "Ken Isaacs, a vice president with Samaritan’s Purse, a North Carolina-based Christian humanitarian organization, also said the number of Ebola cases and deaths reported by the World Health Organization are probably 25 percent to 50 percent below actual levels."
Isaacs told of a prominent Liberian doctor who “openly mocked the existence of Ebola” by trying to enter a hospital isolation ward with no gloves or protective clothing. He and another man who accompanied him to the hospital both died within five days, Isaacs said.
At one point, Isaacs even disputed the earlier testimony of a physician from the U.S. Agency for International Development, who said his agency had provided 35,000 protective suits for health care workers in West Africa.
Isaacs told lawmakers he had received an email in the last 90 minutes from a hospital in Liberia “asking us for more personal protection gear. This a problem everywhere,” he said.
Equipment might not be a problem for much longer. Finding people to wear them will. Ebola is rapidly killing off the medical personnel and shutting down the hospitals. The dead are being left to die in the street, where with a last effort, some of them crawl out to expire.
Adam Nossiter of the NY Times stalked the empty wards of hospitals. It was infest with fear.
patients have fled the hospital’s long, narrow buildings, which sit silent and echoing in the fading light. Few people are taking any chances by coming here.
“Don’t touch the walls!” a Western medical technician yelled out. “Totally infected.”
The Telegraph says authorities have warned people against bring the sick to churches. "According to Dr Bernice Dahn, Liberia's chief medical officer, three of the victims passed away while they were being sheltered in a local church – a sign of how many some people believe the disease is a curse that can be cured by prayer or witchcraft." But in a situation where medical science is equally helpless, many people, as the Daily Telegraph notes, have simply fled to the bars and honky-tonks.
People don’t die here now,” said the deputy chief of the hospital’s burying team, Albert J. Mattia, exasperated after a long day of Ebola burials. “They are dying in the community, five, six a day.” Mr. Mattia was particularly disturbed that many of the bodies his team were putting in the ground had come from outside the hospital, thwarting attempts to isolate patients and prevent them from passing the disease to others.
“It’s very, very dangerous, very hazardous; it is contributing to the Ebola dead,” he said as his two deputies nodded glumly in agreement. “You go to the wards, there are no patients.”
When they're not in denial, they're angry. A crowd approached the journalist's group threateningly.
"A crowd gathered, and some accused us health workers of spreading the disease ourselves. They even began touching a local journalist we had brought with us, saying: 'if you think it is us spreading it, then here you are, we will infect you'."
In places where villagers see a doctor, they flee into the bush, shouting "Ebola! Ebola!" You can see why Sawyer freaked out like he did. He was in the grip of some nameless devil and lashed out at anything and everything.
The received Western wisdom is that an Ebola epidemic is best controlled by quarantine and contact monitoring. You know, with isolation wards and databases and non-available disposable protective clothing in 110 degree heat. In a word, through a program of action which Africa is singularly unable to carry out. African officialdom lives by lies, faking documents and jumping the queue. Like some American political parties, that is how they handle crisis. That's how they'll handle this one.
With the hospitals gone, they are now "sending troops" to isolate the disease. More likely than not the troops will themselves carry the virus and since no one can stop armed men, they will go where they like.
Much of the coverage has centered on the epidemic in Liberia and Nigeria, because these countries are relatively accessible to English speaking journalists. But we have no idea what is happening in Sierra Leone or Guinea, which is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. Officials claim only about 1,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa so far, 'not many' in such a vast region. But this completely underrates the real danger. The relevant population against which such casualties must be measured are the medical personnel. They are being wiped out. Africa has a very limited store of scientific, medical and technical human capital and once these irreplaceables are killed or intimidated then the man issuing the medical exit visas will be an illiterate with a rubber stamp.
And then anyone can get on a plane. Maybe anyone already can -- providing he's official.
Culture is the key to survival, not just in Africa but also in the West. The prosperity of the last 70 years has made us forget that exact knowledge matters, not for any reasons of social status, but for survival. Nature doesn't care what you think. It doesn't care about spin doctors say or what someone said in a speech. The virus is a physical information object, which given input, produces output. "Don't touch the walls!" applies as much to presidents as to villagers.
Perhaps Ebola will stay in Africa. But one shouldn't count on it. Readers will recall reports Libyan hospital systems are collapsing as expatriate health workers, who make up 80% of medical personnel, evacuate. The hospital systems in Syria and Iraq are probably highly degraded by now. Two days ago, a Saudi businessman died after returning from West Africa, after exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms, but the diagnosis has not been confirmed. The wars of the region have created an extraordinary fertile ground for epidemic. If Ebola should get to Mecca then we will rediscover the truism that no man is an island, especially not in our globalized world.
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