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Remembering Ebola

BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS epidemic, there was ebola. It is remarkable how similar the comments from experts and members of the public were back then, compared to the current pandemic. History, and indeed mistakes, repeat themselves, as this collection of quotes from that time illustrates. Compiled by Ben Arogundade. Feb. 20, 2021.

Ebola virus pandemic in Liberia photo

CARRIED AWAY: Suspected Ebola sufferer James Dorbor, aged 8, is rushed into a treatment facility by health workers in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 5, 2014. Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Redux Pictures.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

In early September 1976, Mabalo Lokela, the headmaster of the local school, had died with a high fever, intractable diarrhoea and bleeding. His death sent a shockwave through the small mission community. Soon the hospital was full of patients with a similar illness and nearly all died within a week. This was the beginning of the first known outbreak of Ebola.

PETER PIOT, Professor Of Global Health, 'FT' magazine, May 02, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

We are the Red Cross body management team. Our job is to pick up dead bodies.

FRIDAY KIYEE, Red Cross supervisor, 'TIME’ Magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

On Aug. 12 the government announced a national ambulance hotline that Liberians could call to request safe transfer of patients suspected of having Ebola to designated treatment centers. But the hotline was quickly overwhelmed with calls — some 2,000 a day…there were only six government ambulances to answer those calls.

ARYN BAKER, journalist, 'TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Scientists now believe that bats are the natural reservoir for the virus, and that apes and humans catch it from eating food that bats have drooled or defecated on, or by coming in contact with surfaces covered in infected bat droppings and then touching their eyes or mouths.

NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 21, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

For the healthcare workers who are caring for people with Ebola, we want them to be scared…We want to channel that fear into being incredibly meticulous about infection control.

TOM FRIEDEN, Director, US Center For Disease Control, Oct. 05, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Some people try and hide their sickness…some are trying to escape the city to go to their families to use traditional healers instead of going to medical centres here.

LT. MARTIN TEJAN, Sierra Leone Army, BBC World, Nov. 23, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Ebola is important, but there are other important issues, like tobacco control.

MARGARET CHAN, Director General, World Health Organisation (WHO) Convention On Tobacco Control, Oct. 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

In Liberia, where the disease is hottest, corpse-disposal teams are reportedly accepting bribes to permit families to bury their dead in traditional ceremonies — a common route of transmission for the epidemic.

DAVID VON DREHLE, journalist, TIME Magazine, Oct. 17, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Burial workers in the Sierra Leonean city of Kenema have dumped bodies in public in protest at non-payment of allowances for handling Ebola victims. The workers, who went on strike over the issue, left 15 bodies abandoned at the city's main hospital.

BBC NEWS AFRICA, Nov. 25, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.

MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM, Director at the Center For Infectious Disease Research, New York Times, Sept. 11, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion
pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

It [Ebola] can spread like flu. Previous denials of this fact helped to create the suspicion that the new Ebola strain is a weaponized bio-warfare strain created by US government labs in West Africa…Did the new Ebola strain escape, perhaps via some lab mishap that infected lab workers, or was the strain deliberately released in order to test if it works?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, author and journalist, paulcraigroberts.com, Oct. 29, 2014.

They're mocking me. They call me names. Sometimes they attack.

MARIATU KAGBO, Red Cross volunteer, burial team, BBC News Africa, Nov. 05, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

It seems a natural step to think about if and where robots could help in a medical crisis like the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

JEN COPESTAKE, journalist, BBC Click TV, Nov. 07, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Abstain from sex if you start feeling ill.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

I don’t want Sierra Leone just to be Ebola in my mind for ever, because it’s such a beautiful place and such nice people. I’d like to just get out there and see it. But that’s a long, long way away. 

WILL POOLEY, Nurse,The Guardian', Nov. 11, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion
pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

In early September 1976, Mabalo Lokela, the headmaster of the local school, had died with a high fever, intractable diarrhoea and bleeding. His death sent a shockwave through the small mission community. Soon the hospital was full of patients with a similar illness and nearly all died within a week. This was the beginning of the first known outbreak of Ebola.

PETER PIOT, 'FT' Magazine, May 02, 2014.

We thought we conquered all infectious diseases 40 years ago, and we’ve been asleep.

LESLIE LOBEL, virologist and physician, 'TIME magazine, Oct. 17, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

The fear of contagion has already spread.

DAVID VON DREHLE, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Guinea is where the [latest] outbreak started. A two-year-old boy called Emile, now known as patient zero, was the first person to become infected. He died last December but it wasn't until March that experts realised what had happened and declared an outbreak.

TULIP MAZUMDAR, journalist and broadcaster, BBC World, Nov. 23, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Ebola struck in three near destitute countries, two of them struggling to recover from years of brutal civil war, at a time when the very people tasked with preventing disease epidemics had cut crucial staff and funds.

VIVIENNE WALT, journalist,TIME’ magazine, Nov. 10, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

On Aug. 12 the government announced a national ambulance hotline that Liberians could call to request safe transfer of patients suspected of having Ebola to designated treatment centers. But the hotline was quickly overwhelmed with calls — some 2,000 a day…there were only six government ambulances to answer those calls.

ARYN BAKER, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Scientists now believe that bats are the natural reservoir for the virus, and that apes and humans catch it from eating food that bats have drooled or defecated on, or by coming in contact with surfaces covered in infected bat droppings and then touching their eyes or mouths.

NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 21, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

It [Ebola] is another illustration of how animal viruses can cause infections and even epidemics in humans (both HIV and influenza come from animals).

PETER PIOT, ‘FT' magazine, May 02, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Men should wear condoms during sexual contact for at least 3 months after recovery from Ebola.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Humans are an accidental host, as a virus that kills its host in a couple of weeks could not survive in nature.

PETER PIOT, FT' magazine, May 02, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

It’s Ebola that knocked us silly. Contagion has a way of doing that. The enemy is not just among us; it’s potentially invisibly within us — the most primal violation of all.

JEFFREY KLUGER, journalist,TIME’ magazine, Oct. 20, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Approximately one week after infection, patients develop severe fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. They then start bleeding and are affected by “disseminated intravascular coagulation”, whereby small blood clots develop in the body’s blood vessels, ultimately resulting in generalised organ failure, shock and death one week after the onset of symptoms.

PETER PIOT, FT' Magazine, May 02, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Misinformation spreads through societies in much the same way diseases do.

JEFFREY KLUGER,TIME’ magazine', Oct. 20, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

You cannot get (infected with) Ebola by talking to people, walking in the street, or shopping in the market.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion
pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Ebola is spreading [In Monrovia, Liberia] through contact with infected bodily fluids, and in a society habituated to close physical proximity, no one shakes hands anymore. On Sundays churchgoers don’t sit so tightly together on the pews. Sports are discouraged. The city’s air is heavy with the antiseptic stench of chlorine disinfectant.

ARYN BAKER, ’TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

Employees at a day-care center on New York’s Staten Island have begun wearing latex gloves because many of the students are members of a Liberian community.

JEFFREY KLUGER, 'TIME’ magazine, Oct. 20, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

For the healthcare workers who are caring for people with Ebola, we want them to be scared…We want to channel that fear into being incredibly meticulous about infection control.

TOM FRIEDEN, Oct. 05, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

CDC has a long history of doing bio-warfare work. I have them doing bio-warfare work for the Pentagon in Sierra Leone as early 1988.

FRANCIS BOYLE, Professor Of International Law, Illinois, washingtonsblog.com, Oct. 23, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion
pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

It [Ebola] can spread like flu. Previous denials of this fact helped to create the suspicion that the new Ebola strain is a weaponized bio-warfare strain created by US government labs in West Africa…Did the new Ebola strain escape, perhaps via some lab mishap that infected lab workers, or was the strain deliberately released in order to test if it works?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, paulcraigroberts.com, Oct. 29, 2014.

It’s clear that [the U.S. bio-weapons researchers] were using Liberia to try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention.

FRANCIS BOYLE, washingtonsblog.com, Oct. 23, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

About 200,000 people are having problems getting food because of problems caused by the Ebola outbreak.

NEW YORK TIMES', Nov. 21, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Many people had simply stopped cooperating with health workers. They had gone to ground and taken Ebola with them.

JEFFREY E. STERN, journalist, 'Vanity Fair' magazine', Oct. 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Some people try and hide their sickness…some are trying to escape the city to go to their families to use traditional healers instead of going to medical centres here.

LT. MARTIN TEJAN, BBC World, Nov. 23, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Quack cures, rumors and conspiracy theories have also run rampant in the crowded cities of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

DAVID VON DREHLE, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

WHO laid off 1,000 staff members in 2010 — including some of the same people who might have helped stop Ebola from spreading — and halved its budget for outbreak and response to a meagre $114 million this year.

VIVIENNE WALT, 'TIME’ magazine, Nov. 10, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Compared with the hundreds of thousands of people who die from HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis in the developing world each year, Ebola’s toll so far is small. But it’s what could happen next that has public health advocates and governments around the world so scared.

ARYN BAKER, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

We have to remember that Ebola isn’t West Africa’s only problem. Tens of thousands die there each year from diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have among the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM, ‘New York Times’, Sept. 11, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

We’re averaging eight to 10 corpses a day, some of them dead on arrival; there’s a dead body every hour or two.

WILL POOLEY, 'The Guardian', Nov. 11, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Every corpse is bundled into a body bag, hauled onto the back of a Red Cross pick up and transported, sirens screaming, to a crematorium far outside town. There the dead, unmarked and unmourned, are burned in huge funeral pyres each night, the smoke going unseen into the dark.

ARYN BAKER, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

In Liberia, where the disease is hottest, corpse-disposal teams are reportedly accepting bribes to permit families to bury their dead in traditional ceremonies — a common route of transmission for the epidemic.

DAVID VON DREHLE, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 17, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Burial workers in the Sierra Leonean city of Kenema have dumped bodies in public in protest at non-payment of allowances for handling Ebola victims. The workers, who went on strike over the issue, left 15 bodies abandoned at the city's main hospital.

BBC NEWS AFRICA, Nov. 25, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

They broke down, holding each other and clinging to my arms, crying. We could see the terror in their faces as they were convinced they too would soon die, just like four of their colleagues and a priest who had all succumbed to the Ebola virus in the course of a few weeks.

PETER PIOT, 'FT' magazine, May 02, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

The spectre of racial profiling looms as travellers to and from Africa come under increasing medical suspicion.

DAVID VON DREHLE, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.

MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM, New York Times, Sept. 11, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

40,500 — the number of people globally who Google the question, 'Is Ebola airborne?' each month.

BEN AROGUNDADE, Writer


pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

Ebola treatment centers require an average of four highly trained staff members per patient — from a constantly rotating roster of doctors and nurses to disinfectant teams and janitors.

ARYN BAKER, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

pandemic quotes. stories, opinion

There is a tipping point in all epidemics, when the number of infected patients becomes so large that no army of health care workers is big enough to draw protective rings around every cluster of patients, friends and family.

DAVID VON DREHLE, ‘TIME’ magazine, Oct. 13, 2014.

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