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Ebola, the end of the world?

 

I’ve been watching the spread of the Ebola virus through the eyes of the world’s press, and I’m becoming increasingly worried by its potential to attack everyone on the planet.

 

More than 11,000 people died in West Africa’s 2013-16 Ebola outbreak and resulted in an emergency COBRA meeting in the UK. COBRA is often described as the government’s national emergencies committee. The name COBRA stands for ”Cabinet Office briefing room A”, and usually it meets in Downing Street. The Prime Minister can reconvene COBRA at any time that they feel the country is on the verge of an emergency – for example, COBRA met during the foot-and-mouth scares and the fuel crisis in 2000 – and the nature of the crisis would usually determine who would be involved. The fact that the UK government was reacting at what is still a very distant threat suggests that distance may not be what we may all hope it would be.

 

Given the high mobility of people via airports and mass transport these days, if this extremely dangerous pestilence reaches a transport hub, and is then passed on to the many people who pass through, there will be no way of containing it. Imagine someone infected simply being in the Departure lounge of Manchester airport this past week, with nearly 400,000 people passing through? Within a week, those people could infect most of the UK and beyond.

 

The current outbreak is believed to have killed 676 people and infected 406 others. Another 331 patients have recovered but this outbreak is spreading faster than ever. Although, as far as we are told, no Britons have been infected so far and there were no reported cases in the UK, the government is obviously viewing the outbreak very seriously. My worry is that there appears to be very little that can be done to treat the disease once you have contracted it. This strain of Ebola is probably the second most deadly virus in the world after canine rabies.

 

Given the way the UK seems to have broken up in to self-contained communities, such diseases would only become containable if the authorities were aware of it, and the fact that a very large percentage of the population in cities such as London are ”off the radar” and also possibly more likely to contract the virus through visiting relatives, it would very quickly have a foothold in a major population centre.

 

I am hoping what I have written here is just the result of reading way too many apocalyptic novels, but the reactions of the upper echelons are hinting at something we are yet to be aware of.

 

 

UPDATE 12/06/2019

The head of a major medical research charity has called the latest outbreak of Ebola in central Africa “truly frightening”. Nearly 1,400 people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

A five-year-old boy has also died in neighbouring Uganda, the first case of Ebola reported in the country.The Ugandan government is now reporting seven other suspected cases of the virus.In a statement, Dr Farrar said the spread was “tragic but unfortunately not surprising”. He warned that more cases were expected, and a “full” national and international response would be needed to protect lives.

 

Since the first case of Ebola in the DRC last August, nearly 1,400 people have died – around 70% of all those infected.The outbreak is the second-largest in the history of the disease, with a significant spike in new cases in recent weeks.

 

Only once before has an outbreak continued to grow more than eight months after it began – that was the epidemic in West Africa between 2013-16, which killed 11,310 people.

 

This outbreak is already the second largest in human history and some have predicted it could take up to two more years to bring to an end. The World Health Organization has twice ruled that this Ebola outbreak is not a yet global emergency. Its Emergency Committee will meet again on Friday.

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