I've warned often enough about the dangers of the Ebola outbreak in the Congo. Aesop, over at Raconteur Report, has done the same. I don't see any point in doing so again - if people haven't listened before, they won't listen now. Instead, I'll just point out that events are proceeding almost exactly as Aesop and I have predicted they would. Click each headline below for more information.
1. Ebola reaches Uganda
Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday - a grandmother and a three-year-old boy, confirming that a deadly outbreak has spread for the first time beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo.
. . .
"This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping," said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, which is involved in fighting Ebola.
"We can expect and should plan for more cases in DRC and neighboring countries," he said, adding: "There are now more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history, bar the West Africa epidemic of 2013-16, and there can be no doubt that the situation could escalate towards those terrible levels."
2. One in four DR Congo Ebola cases could be going undetected
Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said on Thursday the epidemic was "not out of control, but it is certainly not under control", with insecurity and community mistrust hampering emergency responders' efforts.
"We believe we are probably detecting in excess of 75 percent of cases. We may be missing up to a quarter of cases," Ryan said at a press conference in the Swiss city of Geneva.
. . .
The outbreak - the second-worst on record - reached 1,000 cases in March. It then took less than three more months to surpass 2,000, signalling a tripling in the rate of infection.
. . .
Health teams have been unable to reach some areas because of violence by rebel groups, with scores of rival armed factions active in the region. More than 100 attacks on treatment centres and health workers have been recorded since the beginning of the year, according to WHO.
. . .
According to a recent study by the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, large segments of the local population believe the virus is a fabrication invented for the financial gain of business-owning local elites or to further destabilise the area.
Fewer than two-thirds of the nearly 1,000 respondents said they would take a vaccine for Ebola.
3. Wave of undocumented Africans arrive in Mexico
A wave of 11,900 African migrants, mostly from the Congo, fleeing wars and poverty and heading to the United States in search of political asylum, has entered Mexico ... According to the INM, migrants come mainly from the Republic of the Congo, in Africa ... They start a journey of three to four months from Africa to the southern border of Mexico. They cross the Atlantic Ocean by sea or air to reach Sao Paulo, Brazil.
From there, they move through the jungle to continue through Peru; in buses, vans, and stretches on foot or by boat, they travel through Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala, until they reach Chiapas.
“So far we have no refugee applications, they tell us that they intend to arrive in the United States and only using Mexican territory as transit,” said Jordán Alegría.
Aaaaaand . . .
4. 350 Congolese Migrants Arrive in San Antonio
“We didn’t get a heads up,” Interim Assistant City Manager Dr. Collen Bridger told KEN 5 after a group of 350 Congolese migrants arrived in the city unexpectedly. “When we called Border Patrol to confirm, they said, ‘yea another 200 to 300 from the Congo and Angola will be coming to San Antonio.'”
. . .
South and central African migrants began illegally crossing the South Texas border on May 30 when 117 migrants from the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola crossed in the Del Rio Sector. By June 5, more than 500 African migrants had crossed illegally in this single Border Patrol sector...
The new arrivals in the USA from Congo are probably not carriers of Ebola, and probably did not flee because of that virus - they've been on the road for several months to get here. The next wave of Congo refugees? You can bet your bottom dollar many of them will be fleeing Ebola. Where do you think those Uganda cases came from? They were from a single extended family fleeing Ebola in north-eastern Congo, that's where. That family undoubtedly had contact with border officials, hospital workers, and others in Uganda before the nature of their disease became apparent. Every one of those people should now be under observation, in quarantine, along with everyone else with whom they had contact. If they aren't . . . the virus will spread through them. Guaran-damn-teed.
There are undoubtedly hundreds more people and families like that, probably thousands more, already in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They haven't passed through official checkpoints to get there, either, because of the risks of being turned back (particularly if they show any symptoms of any illness whatsoever). They're sneaking across borders through thick bush, along forest trails, keeping out of sight. By the time Ebola symptoms become apparent, they may have had contact with dozens, scores, even hundreds of locals.
So far, the figures for this Ebola infestation appear to show a doubling of the number of cases approximately every month. I predict that's about to change for the worse, at least locally. I also predict that the disease will make its appearance in Rwanda and Burundi soon, to go along with Uganda, and will spread from there to Kenya, Tanzania, and probably South Sudan and Chad as well.
So far, the saving grace for the USA is that such refugees have taken several months to get here. Since Ebola's incubation period is plus-or-minus 21 days (with some outliers taking up to 40 days to show symptoms), that means most of those infected will die before they get close to our borders. That does not, repeat, does NOT apply to those who can afford to travel faster. If a refugee family has passports and funds at its disposal (and some do), it can hire smugglers to get it to an airport (e.g. Kampala in Uganda, or the big international airport at Nairobi in Kenya). From there, it's an overnight flight to any one of a dozen cities in Europe. From those cities, it's another eight- to twelve-hour flight to the USA. They can do the whole journey, start to finish, in less than a week . . . leaving them two to three weeks to wander around the USA, spreading Ebola to everyone they meet.
Nightmare? No. It's a clear and present danger. If you don't understand that, you haven't been following the situation for the past year.
It's even worse because the Democratic Party-controlled Congress absolutely refuses to fund a border wall and other effective exclusionary measures. That's the only thing that can stop such refugees from crossing our borders almost at will . . . yet, for their own political reasons, the Democrats refuse to countenance it. Right now, that borders on criminal negligence. If Ebola crosses our southern border with its carriers, it will become actual criminal negligence at least, and possibly manslaughter. I can only hope and trust that those blocking effective border security measures will be held accountable for the results of their actions, if worse comes to worst. In that case, I can't think of a penalty that would be too severe.
Go read Aesop's latest take on the situation, and the comments from his readers. He's not exaggerating.