The U.S. government has tightened its infection control regulations for health care workers who care for Ebola patients. Here are some of the other recent updates from around the world.
Hospital: American video journalist free of Ebola
An Omaha, Neb., hospital says an American video journalist is free of Ebola and will be released soon.
The Nebraska Medical Center said Tuesday afternoon that Ashoka Mukpo’s blood tested negative for the virus. He will be allowed to leave a biocontainment unit Wednesday.
Mukpo said in a statement that recovering from Ebola “is a truly humbling feeling.” He also made several comments on Twitter.
Mukpo, of Providence, Rhode Island, has been treated at the Nebraska Medical Center since Oct. 6. He contracted Ebola while working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC and other media outlets.
He had tweeted that he’s still not sure exactly how he caught the virus, but that he doesn’t regret returning to Liberia in September to “help raise the alarm.”
Cuba sends 91 more doctors to fight Ebola
Every few years Dr. Leonardo Fernandez flies to a nation shaken by natural disaster, political turmoil or disease, leaving his hospital in eastern Cuba for countries that have included Pakistan, Nicaragua and East Timor.
On Tuesday, the intensive care specialist was headed to the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic along with 90 other Cuban medical workers as part of a half-century-old strategy that puts doctors on the front lines of the country’s foreign policy.
The 91 nurses and doctors going to Guinea and Liberia join 165 already in Sierra Leone – making this island of 11 million people one of the largest global contributors of medical workers to the fight against Ebola.
The commitment has drawn rare praise from the U.S. and focused worldwide attention on Cuba’s unique program of medical diplomacy, which deploys armies of doctors to win friends abroad and earn more than $6 billion a year in desperately needed foreign exchange.
Mother of nurse with Ebola says she’s doing well
The mother of a nurse infected with the Ebola virus says her daughter is doing well and the family is relieved new guidelines for treating patients with the disease are now in place.
Debra Berry made the comments during an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Berry’s daughter, Amber Vinson, is being cared for in a specialized unit at Emory University Hospital near Atlanta.
Berry said the family is “very confident” Vinson is receiving good care at Emory. Vinson was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Another nurse there also became infected. Duncan died on Oct. 8.
Rwanda requires US, Spain visitor health reports
The U.S. Embassy in Rwanda says that Rwanda’s Ministry of Health is requiring visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the previous 22 days to report their medical condition to health authorities.
A Ministry of Health document says all passengers from the U.S. and Spain – two countries that have seen cases of Ebola – will have temperatures taken upon arrival. Passengers with fevers will be denied entry, and those without fevers will still be required to report daily health conditions.
No Ebola cases have been reported in Rwanda. The U.S. embassy says Rwanda is not allowing visitors who have recently traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone. Though the incoming health form advises those traveling from those countries must also report health conditions daily.
Ebola cases rise sharply in western Sierra Leone
The number of people infected with Ebola in western Sierra Leone, on the other side of the country from where the first cases emerged months ago, is soaring with more than 20 deaths daily, the government and local media reported Tuesday.
New confirmed cases of Ebola that emerged Monday in two Ebola zones in and around the capital Freetown numbered 49, the National Ebola Response Center reported Tuesday. There are 851 total confirmed cases in the two zones, called Western Area Urban and Western Area Rural, the center said. But there were no new cases in the eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, which previously had been an epicenter of the outbreak. There was no immediate official explanation of what has caused the drop in reported new cases there.
WHO: Ebola vaccine trials in W. Africa in January
The hunt for an Ebola vaccine will produce data soon about whether two experimental vaccines are safe and could lead to larger medical trials in West Africa by January, a top World Health Organization official said Tuesday.
Dr Marie Paule Kieny, an assistant director general for WHO, said clinical trials either planned or underway in Europe, Africa and the U.S. are expected to produce preliminary safety data by December. In the meantime, she said, governments are pushing for immediate “real-world use” of an approved Ebola vaccine.
She told reporters Tuesday in Geneva there are two leading candidates for a vaccine. If the vaccines are deemed safe, tens of thousands of doses will be used in trials in West Africa beginning in January to test their effectiveness, she said.
One of those vaccines, developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline from a modified chimpanzee cold virus and an Ebola protein, is in clinical trials in the U.K. and in Mali. It will be used in clinical trials in Lausanne, Switzerland, by the start of February. The second front-runner, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and known as VSV-EBOV, has been sent to the U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland for testing on healthy volunteers, with results expected by December. The next stage would be to test it more broadly, including among those directly handling Ebola cases in West Africa.
Canada has donated 800 vials of the experimental vaccine to WHO but the shipment was delayed by a Lufthansa pilots strike. It is now expected to arrive in Switzerland on Wednesday for testing coordinated by the U.N. health agency among volunteers at the University Hospital of Geneva, and volunteers in Hamburg, Germany, and in Gabon and Kenya, Kieny said.
At a separate news conference, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib promised a thorough public audit of the agency’s early missteps in responding to the Ebola outbreak that has already killed over 4,500 people.
With files from the Associated Press