TIME ebola

Heathrow Airport Starts Screening for Ebola

Ebola screening to begin at London's Heathrow Airport
Passengers walk at Heathrow Airport in London on Oct. 14, 2014. Andy Rain—EPA

A health official says he expects a "handful" of cases to enter the UK

England’s Heathrow airport began screening passengers for Ebola Tuesday.

Arrivals from at-risk countries in West Africa will be subject to filling out a questionnaire and having their temperature taken before the process gets rolled out to other terminals within Heathrow and then other airports including Gatwick and Eurostar. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that although the UK’s Ebola risk is low, he expects a “handful” of cases to enter the region, the BBC reports.

Health officials said anyone suspected to have Ebola will be taken to a hospital, while those who are asymptomatic but high-risk, having reported prior contact with patients, will receive daily follow-ups.

Journalist Sorious Samura, who traveled back from Monrovia, Liberia, through Brussels and into Heathrow, told The Guardian that he underwent the screening — but noted that it was optional.

“I could have just come throughout without any screening. That is how scary it is,” he said. “They asked for various details, about the symptoms, whether you experienced any of the symptoms, did you experience headaches, vomiting and things like that, and then they did my temperature using the normal equipment that you put in someone’s ear.”

“[The screening] appears not to be a scientific decision but a political one,” Dr. Ron Behrens from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told The Telegraph, noting that it will benefit few but disrupt “large numbers of people.”

Health Secretary Hunt said that approximately 89% of people entering the UK from impacted regions would get checked, since some might take an indirect route in the airport that avoids the screening area. He added, “This government’s first priority is the safety of the British people.”

Read next: Ebola Health Care Workers Face Hard Choices

TIME ebola

Liberia’s New Plan to Get Ebola Sufferers Into Isolation

Residents take home family and home disinfection kits distributed by Doctors Without Borders, on Oct. 4, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia.
Residents take home family and home disinfection kits distributed by Doctors Without Borders, on Oct. 4, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia. John Moore—Getty Images

The new Ebola Community Care Centers pioneered by Save the Children strike a compromise between home care and hospital-grade treatment. But will they work?

When U.S. President Barack Obama promised, on Sept. 16, to help Liberia set up 17 Ebola treatment centers to help stem the outbreak, the sense of relief was palpable in the west African country. That was the kind of robust international response it needed to stop Ebola in its tracks. Getting patients afflicted with the virus into isolation, where they could no longer infect friends and family, would go a long way towards cutting down Ebola’s exponential spread.

But nearly a month later those clinics aren’t up yet, and so far only one—a 25-bed unit designated solely for infected health workers—is even close to completion. Even though there are currently about 600 beds in Liberia, with another 300 expected to come on line in the next few weeks, it is nowhere near the 1,990 that the World Health Organization [WHO] estimates will be required for the current caseload.

The U.S.-built centers, which would make some 1700 treatment beds available, won’t be up and running for another two to three months, U.S. officials said this week. With 8011 infected and 3857 dead in west Africa as of Oct. 8, according to the WHO, and little hope of seeing the number of new cases each week go down any time soon, no one can afford to wait. Which is why both international and Liberian health officials are looking for alternatives. “One of the biggest challenges we are having is getting people out of their homes and into the treatment centers,” says Frank Mahoney, Liberia team leader for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response. “We have been working furiously trying to stand up treatment centers, but [new cases] have been outpacing our ability to stand them up.”

As a stopgap measure, USAID and some international NGOs are looking at ways to protect caregivers at home. But one organization, with support from both the Liberian government and U.S. officials, is proposing a radical compromise that gets suspected patients out of the home for care, without requiring beds in the yet-to-be-completed official Ebola Treatment Units [ETU]. They are called Ebola Community Care [ECC] centers, hyper-local clinics run by community volunteers and staffed not by trained health workers, but by the very people who would otherwise be taking care of patients in the home: family members.

To a certain extent, stopping Ebola is a question of simple math. If you can get the transmission rate to below one, meaning each infected person spreads the illness to less than one person, on average, the virus will die out. If the numbers are more than 2.5, that means the epidemic is “out of control,” according to Carolyn Miles, President of Save the Children, an international humanitarian aid agency working on Ebola in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Liberia, the transmission rate is somewhere between 1.75 and 2.5, dangerously close to becoming unstoppable. One of the greatest contributors to the high transmission rate is patients staying at home, where they can infect multiple family members. “From a transmission standpoint, it is essential to get people out of their homes,” says Miles. Ebola Community Care centers, she says, give people a place to go while waiting for the specialized treatment units to be set up.

One of the key factors delaying the ETUs is the necessity for a highly-trained staff of physicians, assistants, nurses, pharmacists and sanitation teams working 24/7. Finding, hiring and training that staff is at least as difficult, if not more so, as getting the physical beds in place. But Save the Children’s response cuts down the staff requirements by building temporary holding centers in every community affected by Ebola.

In these centers, patients suspected of having Ebola can wait for testing without fear of infecting others, while those with confirmed infections can wait in isolation wards until a bed in an official treatment center opens up. One caretaker, who will be trained by an on-site supervisor in basic care and self-protection measures, will accompany each patient. The caretakers will be provided with disposable gloves, aprons, gowns and masks, as well as disinfecting solutions for keeping themselves and their charges clean. “Only one family member per patient is allowed into the ECC,” says Miles. “That alone will get transmission to below one.”

The centers won’t have a medical staff on hand full time. Instead each center will be visited daily by rotating teams of doctors, nurses, sanitizers and personal protection gear suppliers, who will replenish stocks as necessary. The mobile teams will be able to visit up to four community care centers a day, reducing the need for staffing and training. One such center, with 20 beds for suspected cases and 10 in a separate isolation ward, will open later this week, in Magribi County, one of Liberia’s most afflicted areas. By the end of the month Save the Children expects to have 10 more up and running.

The risk for family caretakers is still high, given that well-trained health care practitioners working for some of the most rigorously protective treatment centers are still getting sick. But the alternative is more dangerous, says Miles. “ECCs are not as safe as an ETU, but they are safer than having an ill person at home, being cared for by multiple family members in an environment where real isolation may not be possible.”

As much as communities are warming to the idea, the new care centers still face the fear and stigma that plagues anything to do with Ebola. “A lot of people do want to care for their loved ones in a safe environment, and they know there are not enough ETUs,” says Miles. The problem, she notes, is that no one wants a center next door. But until U.S. officials can keep President Obama’s promise, these kinds of stopgap solutions might be the only chance to slow the spread of Ebola.

TIME ebola

Liberia Burns its Bodies as Ebola Fears Run Rampant

A burial team disinfects an Ebola victim while collecting him for cremation on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
A burial team disinfects an Ebola victim while collecting him for cremation on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. John Moore—Getty Images

In an effort to stem Ebola’s spread, Liberia’s government has all but banned burials in favor of cremation.

In the dusty shopfront of one of downtown Monrovia’s more desolate side streets, Sam Agyra flips through a fly-specked photo album showing off his custom caskets.

Cake-like confections of pale satin, gold detailing and elaborate wooden scrollwork, his coffins have earned him a well-deserved reputation for beautiful work at a cheap price. In good times he was turning out five handcrafted pine coffins a week. Now? He doesn’t even want to talk about it. Instead he just laughs, the hysterical cackle of a man watching his business of 25 years grind to a halt. He hasn’t sold a coffin in two months, ever since the Liberian government declared, in an effort to tackle the Ebola crisis, that all of the country’s dead should be burned and not buried.

An Ebola victim is most contagious in the moments and days after death, when unprotected contact with infected bodily fluids carries an extremely high risk of transmission. Liberia’s traditional burial practices, in which mourners bathe, dress and even kiss the corpse, are widely credited with the early explosion of Ebola in the country, where over 2,000 have so far died of the disease. Overwhelmed by the increasing number of dead, and faced with community fears that the buried bodies may also transmit the disease—which, if interred properly, they won’t—Liberia’s government declared in August that all those who died of Ebola should be cremated.

With international help and advice, the government established a Dead Body Management program to pick up Ebola’s victims and dispose of them safely. But testing for Ebola is difficult and time consuming. What little testing resources do exist are reserved for the living, says assistant health minister, Tolbert Nyenswah. With hospitals closed and doctors overwhelmed, it is almost impossible to prove that the cause of death is anything but the deadly virus. “These days, if someone dies, it’s Ebola,” says Agyra. “There is no testing, no questions. Just Ebola, and they take the body away. No one has time for coffins.”

The government directive, while logical from an epidemiological aspect, has taken a toll on a society already traumatized by Ebola’s sweep. It denies communities a final farewell, and has led to standoffs with the Dead Body Management teams who must pick up the dead even as the living insist that the cause of death was measles, or stroke, or malaria — anything but Ebola. “We take every body, and burn it,” says Nelson Sayon, who works on one of the teams. Dealing with the living is one of the most difficult aspects of his job, he says, because he knows how important grieving can be. “No one gets their body back, not even the ashes, so there is nothing physical left to mourn.”

Monrovia’s mass cremations, which take place in a rural area far on the outskirts of town, happen at night, to minimize the impact on neighboring communities. For a while the bodies were simply burned in a pile; now they are placed in incinerators donated by an international NGO. There are so many that it can sometimes take all night, says Sayon.

In a country where distrust between the people and the government runs deep, the mass cremations have caused a deeper rift, says Kenneth Martu, a community organizer from the Westpoint area of Monrovia. “In west Africa we don’t cremate bodies at all. So when the government takes away our bodies, and can’t even tell us if they died of Ebola or not, it breeds resentment.” Liberians, he points out, are no strangers to mass casualties: two civil wars, from 1989 to 1996 and 1999 to 2003, saw nearly half a million die. “Even with mass graves, people can bring flowers. They know where to find the dead. But here we don’t even know where the ashes are.”

There are exceptions to the cremation directive. If a family can get a signed death certificate from the Ministry of Health stating that the cause of death was not Ebola, they can take the body to a funeral parlor for embalming and eventual burial. There are even dispensations for those who do die of Ebola; under certain circumstances the dead can be buried in a cemetery, if the Dead Body Management team conducts the preliminary steps of laying the body six feet deep and soaking the next four feet of earth with chlorine solution.

But those dispensations are impossible to get without connections. One recent Saturday, a funeral cortege down one of Monrovia’s main thoroughfares drew questioning comments and glares of resentment from bystanders. “Haven’t seen that in a while,” exclaimed one woman. “Must be related to a minister,” muttered a man.

Considering Liberia’s mounting death toll, it is an irony not lost on coffin-maker Agyra that an enterprise that ordinarily profits from death should be struggling. “You hear of 50, 80, 100 people dying a day here, and the coffin business has never been so bad,” he groans. “This Ebola business. It’s bad for people, and it’s bad for me.”

TIME ebola

People Are Prank Calling Liberia’s Ebola Hotline

While others ring to report a dead body or a sick family member

In a recently converted warehouse in downtown Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, some 30 Liberian university students are manning a bank of phones. Armed with pens, clipboards and multiple bottles of hand sanitizer, they pick up the constantly ringing receivers in quick succession. “Good afternoon. You have reached the Ebola call center. How may I help you?” It’s the national Liberian Ebola hotline, a toll-free number for residents from all over the country worried about a sick neighbor, a suspicious death in the family or troubling symptoms. It serves a vital link between a public terrified of Ebola and the government who can provide help — but pranksters often get in the way.

The call center opened in early August to address the rapidly escalating number of Ebola cases in the country. Ebola spreads through contact with infected bodily fluids, and transmission most often happens in the home, where family members take care of the ill without adequate protection. To stop that chain of transmission, it is vital to get the sick out of home care and into specially designated centers where they can be treated by trained health care workers in isolation. A call to the hotline, the government promised, would result in the dispatch of an ambulance to take the sick person to a treatment center, or, in the case of someone who died, a dead body management team to pick up the corpse, which is still contagious for days after death, for safe disposal.

But no one was prepared for the volume of response. From the very beginning, the center was receiving thousands of calls a day. The government had neither the ambulances to pick up the ill, nor the space to treat them. Instead of a solution, the hotline became a source of frustration. And the callers took it out on the agents at the other end of the line.

“A lot of people think that we are the doctors, that we are the ambulance drivers, or the dead body teams,” says call center manager Tina Kpan. “All we do is transmit the information, but the public doesn’t understand that, and they take their anger out on us.”

The number of calls has declined to around 1,000 a day, says Kpan, who sports short, spiky dreads and dangling gold earrings. But it’s not exactly cause for hope. “Instead of getting one call for one sick person, we are getting reports of five or six sick people at a time,” Kpan says. The phone center’s statistician says that he is averaging 100 calls a day reporting dead bodies. Some of them are duplicate calls, he says, but the numbers are still growing.

Even if the agents aren’t on the front lines of the fight against Ebola, they still feel the pain. “I am sorry for your loss,” whispered one agent into the phone as she took down details of a recently deceased 34-year-old mother from her 12-year-old daughter. The agent briefly rested her forehead in her hands upon hanging up.“You put yourself in that persons’ shoes, and sometimes you feel like its you that it has happened to,” she says. “Its very frustrating. Sometimes they just die.” On her shirt is stapled a small square of paper marked with her temperature coming into work that morning: 36.1 Celsius.

Not all the calls are about the sick and dying. Some, in a way, are worse: the prank callers. Agents say that 90% of the calls are legitimate, but Kpan pulls out a thick folder filled with the recorded phone numbers of people who called simply to harass the center’s workers. Some make lewd jokes or attempt to pick up the female staffers. Others invite the agents out to eat “bush meat,” the monkey and bat flesh consumed in rural areas in a practice that may have spread Ebola into the human population. Kpan has instructed her agents to record the calls, as she plans to broadcast them on the radio in an attempt to name and shame. One prank caller had the misfortune of calling just as she was making the rounds of the phone banks. Kpan grabbed the phone from the agent.

“You listen here,” she shouted into the mouthpiece. “We are here to pick up calls for sick people, and you are occupying the line. And then the public complains that we are not picking up calls. The very next time you call this number, I will have the police pick you up.”

She slams the phone down, and asks the agent for the number. For the moment, she says, they don’t really have the right to call the police. When they do, she expects the call volume to go down. That may make the agents’ job easier. But it’s unlikely to indicate anything about the course of Ebola in Liberia.

TIME ebola

One Man’s Story of Surviving Ebola

An ambulance team supervisor in the Liberian capital Monrovia describes his ordeal, and how he made it through

Foday Galla’s neighbors have started calling him the Miracle Man. It’s a name he thinks is entirely inappropriate. “Man, I sure as hell don’t feel like a miracle,” he groans, struggling to stand up from the thin mat where he was taking an afternoon nap. But the fact that he is alive at all is enough to merit claims of divine intervention by friends and family. Galla survived Ebola.

There is no cure for the disease—but with early intervention, proper care, and a lot of luck, some people, about 46% in Liberia, make it through. Galla, a 37-year-old medical student and ambulance team supervisor in Monrovia, is one of them. He has finally returned home from two weeks in an Ebola treatment center run by the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). And although it’s likely to be a few weeks more before he is back on his feet, the worst has passed. “My man, I went to hell and back,” he says, launching into a nightmarish tale of wrenching pain and debilitating sickness. “Ebola is a bad guy,” he says. “The pain, it makes you want to give up. I used to be a strong man, and this just broke me down.” His brush with death has made him determined to jump back into his job as soon as he regains his strength. “Now that I know the secret to survival, I want to get out there and help everyone else I can,” he says.

Galla got his start as an ambulance team supervisor in December, when a local politician brought in a pair of donated second-hand ambulances from the city of Chico in California. In the beginning the teams mostly dealt with the Liberian capital’s heart attacks, car accidents and women in labor. But when Ebola spread to the country in June the numbers grew so quickly that Galla was soon dispatching his teams to remote villages. Ambulances designed for the streets of Chico now spend their days navigating mud-slicked roads and flooded potholes so deep that ducks have taken up residence. The pace has been so hectic that one of the ambulances, bearing California ambulance license plate number 5W83046, still hasn’t been registered in Liberia. And the calls keep coming.

Galla, who used to go out with one of the teams every day, knows exactly how he got sick. It was the third time he had been called to the same house to pick up patients. First it was for a mother, her son and a daughter that were sick with symptoms of Ebola. Then, a week later, he came for the father, the grandmother and two other sons. They all died. The last boy of the family, a four-year-old, was taken in by neighbors. But a week after that, he got another call. The boy, Samuel, was throwing up, the neighbors said. Galla rushed back. “I put on my [protective gear] as fast as I could. All I wanted to do was save that little child’s life.” Galla found Samuel in a pool of vomit, and gathered him into his arms. The child vomited again, all over Galla’s protective suit. Ebola is spread by infected bodily fluids; vomit is particularly dangerous. “I didn’t care,” says Galla. “All his family was gone, so I wanted to make sure he kept his life.” Galla was in such a rush to get Samuel to treatment that he didn’t stop to disinfect with a whole-body chlorine spray. Samuel survived. But two days later, Galla started feeling sick.

First he dosed himself with a pharmacy’s worth of prophylactics: vitamin C, Amoxicillin, anti-malarials, just in case it was something else. But the headaches kept getting worse, and his joints were too painful to move. He cautioned his family to stay away, and called his own ambulance to take him to the MSF clinic. Galla didn’t need the test results to know he was positive. He could see it in the face of his colleagues on the clinic’s medical team. For three days he was in a delirium, he says. He took the antibiotics provided by the clinic to ward off secondary infections, and drank juice and electrolytes to stave off dehydration. But he was in too much agony to even answer calls from well-wishers. “I only wanted to talk to the pain.” But the MSF nurses and doctors kept encouraging him, telling him that he would be fine, that he would make it through. “I didn’t want to listen, but I didn’t have a choice.” In the end, he says, that’s what saved him. “It was their compassion and their care. I could tell that they wanted me to survive. So I survived.”

Two weeks later he tested negative for Ebola, and was released from the clinic with a new set of clothes (all his infected clothing had to be incinerated) and a “survivor’s kit,” a bundle of food, chlorine and bedding to help him back on his feet. They also gave him a giant package of condoms, and told him not to have unprotected sex for 90 days. “I can barely stand up,” he says with a laugh. “Sex is the last thing on my mind.”

Galla says that he doesn’t regret for one moment that he rushed in to save Samuel. “Even if God had taken my life in the process, as long as Samuel survived, I don’t regret it.” If anything, he says, he has a newfound mission. “I have superpowers over Ebola,” he says. “Now that I have immunity, I have no fear. I will fight for people with all my might.” As a member of an ambulance crew, or as the doctor he hopes to someday become, he intends to apply the lessons he learned from Ebola to all his patients. “You have to care, you have to give encouraging words, you have to tell them they will survive. Because if you don’t have that [as a patient] you are going to want to die.”

TIME ebola

Ebola’s Orphans Have No Place to Go

Ebola's toll includes children who lose their parents to the disease. One charity is coming up with a solution

Berlinda watched her mother die. The three-year-old may not have understood what exactly was going on as the ambulance team transported her and her grievously ill mother to Redemption Hospital, one of Monrovia’s dedicated Ebola treatment centers, but at least she knew she was with the one person who loved her more than anything else in the world.

By the time the ambulance arrived at the clinic in Liberia’s capital city on September 15, her mother had slipped into silence, then death. Berlinda, dressed in a pink plaid shirt and ruffled shorts, emerged from the ambulance wide eyed and scared. There was no one there to receive her, just a phalanx of faceless health care workers covered head-to-toe in white biohazard suits. She too was a potential Ebola patient, so no one could risk picking her up for a comforting hug. Instead she was escorted into the center, given a bed and left for observation. A day later her Ebola test came out negative, but there was no one to celebrate, no one to take her home. Her father unknown and her mother dead; she had nowhere to go.

In a crisis as overwhelming as the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, it is easy to forget that behind each daily death toll there are people left to live with unimaginable loss. For children who lose their parents to sickness or death, the results can be devastating. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that around 3,700 children have lost at least one parent in an outbreak that has devastated Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Those numbers are likely to double by mid-October. Sometimes relatives can be rounded up to take in the child, but with fears of contagion so strong, Ebola’s stigma is starting to eclipse even close blood ties.

“Thousands of children are living through the deaths of their mother, father or family members from Ebola,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West & Central Africa. “These children urgently need special attention and support; yet many of them feel unwanted and even abandoned.”

Berlinda was one of the lucky ones. As she peered through the ambulance doors before entering the clinic, she caught the attention of Katie Meyler, the American founder of a Monrovia-based education charity who was at the clinic checking in on one of her Ebola-assistance programs. Meyler snapped a few photos for Instagram (she initially thought her name was Pearlina, until she saw the girl’s paperwork a few days later). In the months before Ebola struck Liberia, Meyler’s charity, More Than Me, had been in the process of setting up a beachside guesthouse designed to earn an income for the organization, which provides schooling for vulnerable Liberian girls. Those plans had been put on hold, but when Meyler saw Berlinda she realized that she had the resources and the housing to be able to do something. “I told the doctors that I could take care of her until they figured out how to find her family,” says Meyler. Two days later, Berlinda was out of the clinic and in a clean, welcoming home full of new toys, staffed with a nurse and a former teacher, and Meyler had a new project on her hands.

For Meyler, whose decade-long, seat-of-the-pants approach to running an NGO in Liberia can be best defined as “give love and the rest will follow,” such a rapid change in objective came easy. (A few weeks ago she brought $500 worth of toys, candy and ice cream to pass out to patients in a treatment center. She admits that giving lollypops to a person afflicted with Ebola may not be sound medical practice, but “if someone is dying, it can’t be bad to bring them some joy.”)

That kind of aid in Liberia has raised eyebrows among the more traditional international NGOs, who prefer to strengthen local institutions instead of providing alternatives. But in the case of Ebola’s orphans, the need has simply become overwhelming. Ebola can take up to 21 days between exposure to the virus and the development of symptoms, so anyone who has been in direct contact with a patient must be treated as potentially contagious throughout a three-week quarantine. Few are willing to take in children under those conditions.

“The best place for those children to be quarantined is with family members,” says Amy Richmond, a child protection officer in Liberia for the Save the Children NGO. “But fear and stigma around Ebola is a growing phenomenon here, and relatives are scared to take these kids in.”

Even without the need for quarantine, Ebola’s stigma lingers. Three weeks ago, ten-year-old Esther and her family were admitted to a clinic for treatment. She survived, but her parents and her brother did not. Even though she is now immune from Ebola and cannot pass on the virus, distant relatives refused to take her.

“There was this big celebration for all the survivors at the clinic,” recalls Meyler. “Everyone was laughing and praying, but she was bawling her eyes out,” because she had nowhere to go.

That’s where Meyler’s guesthouse-turned-temporary-orphanage comes in. The cheerful blue and yellow building, dubbed HOPE House (Housing, Observation and Pediatric Evaluation), is now home to four children, including Esther and Berlinda. Once Meyler gets the appropriate registration through the government, she plans to welcome up to some 70 more. All of the city’s Ebola treatment centers are already calling, she says. “Everyone is telling me they have kids . . . I can tell you that as soon as we open our doors, it is going to be flooded.”

HOPE House isn’t limited just to orphans. The parents of the two other residents, 3-year-old twins Praise and Praises, are still alive, undergoing treatment for Ebola at Monrovia’s MSF-run isolation center. The twins’ grandmother, Marthalyne Freeman, would gladly take them in, but she works 12-hour shifts as an Ebola nurse. Letting them stay with their parents in the center, she says, is out of the question.

“The children get infected or they get traumatized because their parents can’t take care of them,” says Freeman. She has been working as a nurse since the start of the ongoing Ebola outbreak, she says, and she has seen a lot difficult cases. “Children are being abandoned, and when they are discharged there is no place to keep them. And I don’t think the government has any plans for that right now. The situation in Liberia is very hard.” It is. But for at least some children separated from their parents, things are about to get slightly less hard.

TIME ebola

Liberia Hopes Ebola Diagnosis in the U.S. Will Lead to More Help

“Now the Americans know Ebola can go there, maybe they will send more doctors to Liberia”

The news that a man who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas has been diagnosed with Ebola, the first diagnosis on American soil, was met with mixed reaction Wednesday in one of the West African countries struggling to contain the deadly disease.

Government officials in the capital Monrovia said they have no knowledge of the man’s identity, and have privately expressed frustration that the United States, citing patient confidentiality laws, has not revealed his name or even his nationality. Liberians, ever sensitive to the stigma of Ebola, repeatedly point out that just because the man departed from the capital’s international airport on Sept. 19, it does not necessarily mean he is, in fact, Liberian.

That frustration is reflected on the country’s lively call-in radio talk show. Callers want to be able to identify the man, and pinpoint his nationality, because they say they want to “clear Liberia’s name.” Liberians feel they have been unfairly identified with the Ebola outbreak, which, many point out, started in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, even if Liberia now has the majority of cases. Other call-in guests are taking a longer view, expressing hopes that the case, which is already getting around the clock U.S. media attention, may elicit further American support for the Ebola effort in Liberia.

“Now the Americans know Ebola can go there, maybe they will send more doctors to Liberia,” one caller said. Another brought up the case of American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer, who caught Ebola while working in Liberia, and took it to Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20. He died five days later, unleashing a chain of transmission that ultimately infected 20 and killed eight. Nigerian officials are now saying that the outbreak has been contained. Like the Sawyer case, the caller said, this just further “proves to the world that Ebola is real, and a global threat.” The host agreed. “It is good,” he said, that the patient was getting good treatment in Dallas. It was also good, he added, that Americans can now see the reality of Ebola for themselves: “This will raise international attention, this will let Americans know that Ebola is real.”

TIME Infectious Disease

Gates Foundation Pledges $50 Million for Ebola Battle

LIBERIA-HEALTH-EBOLA-WAFRICA
Health workers before entering a high-risk area on Sept. 7, 2014, at Elwa Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, which is run by Doctors Without Borders Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

The foundation said it would give funds to U.N. agencies combatting the disease

The fight against Ebola received a desperately needed monetary boost Wednesday, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announcing a $50 million donation.

In a statement, the foundation said it would release flexible funds to U.N. agencies combatting the disease, which has already killed over 2,000 people in its worst ever outbreak.

“We are working urgently with our partners to identify the most effective ways to help them save lives now and stop transmission of this deadly disease,” said Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann.

The foundation said it has already committed $10 million out of the total $50 million to fighting Ebola — $5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency operations and research, and another $5 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support efforts in the worst-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In addition, it will also pledge $2 million to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been promising developments in the search for a cure, with a new vaccine reportedly producing positive results. However, the rapidly accelerating spread of Ebola has caused the WHO to project that over 20,000 people will be infected by October.

TIME infectious diseases

2 People Die of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo

But the deaths are not related to the current outbreak in West Africa, health officials in Congo say

Two people have died of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, though the cases may be unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 1,400 people.

Of eight samples taken in the Boende region of Congo’s northwest Equateur province, two came back positive, Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said Sunday, the Associated Press reports. Eleven people are sick and in isolation, and 80 contacts are being traced.

“This epidemic has nothing to do with the one in West Africa,” Kabange said.

Ebola has killed 13 people in the region, including five health workers. The current cases are part of the seventh outbreak of Ebola in Congo, where the disease was first discovered in 1976.

[AP]

TIME infectious diseases

The Protective Suits Helping Doctors Treat Ebola Victims

While people rely on doctors to stop the Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, doctors rely on suits to protect them.

There’s only one thing standing between caregivers and the Ebola virus in the patients they treat: suits. Or more formally, Personal Protection Equipment suits (PPEs). They resemble Hazmat suits, of the kind workers once used to clean up the Chernobyl chemical disaster area almost 30 years ago.

The suits cover every part of the body, but as Dr. William Fischer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains, if doctors don’t follow all the steps in putting the equipment on and then taking them off, they could accidentally contract the virus.

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