New Ebola Outbreaks in Humans Follow Antidote Development in Monkeys

Ebola_workers


Editorial comment

Ebola outbreaks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during summer 2012 beg the following questions:

  • Is an early prototype of an antidote against Ebola being tested on human patients in Africa as part of a drug trial?
  • Has an antidote made it possible to weaponize a rare and deadly virus against which virtually all humans are naive?
  • What ethical guidelines, if any, were followed during the research on monkeys that made it possible to unleash this curse?

Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Chery

Scientists cure Ebola in monkeys, and humans could be next

By George Dvorsky
io9

June 13, 2012. Monkeys infected with the Ebola virus have been cured by a chemical cocktail administered 24 hours after the initial exposure. The breakthrough could eventually result in a similar human treatment for this disease, which kills up to 90 percent of those infected.

Three-D image of Ebola virus (Source: Shutterstock.com/Creations).

According to a June 13, 2012 summary in Nature, researchers based at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, administered three different antibodies to macaques monkeys infected with the Zaire virus: the deadliest strain of Ebola, and a scourge to those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. The concoction, named ZMAb, was given to two monkeys 24 hours after being infected, and the other two 48 hours after infection; all four survived without side effects. One monkey that was not treated died within five days of the infection.

Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist working at the University of Manitoba, led the study. The original results appeared in Science Translational Medicine also on June 13, 2012.

The treatment works by having the antibodies slow down the replication rate of the virus in the infected monkey until its own immune system is able to kick in and finish the job. The antibodies were derived from mice vaccinated with fragments of the virus. The antibodies target and neutralize a glycoprotein on the surface of the virus that allows it to enter and infect cells. Unlike other treatments, Kobinger’s cocktail contains multiple antibodies that individually target different locations of the glycoprotein, making it harder for the Ebola virus to resist attack.

The antibodies themselves are being developed by a biotechnology firm based in Toronto, Canada, called Defyrus, Inc., which describes itself as being a “private life sciences biodefense company.” They are working on a larger Ebola treatment called Defilovir, which, along with the antibodies, is expected to work in tandem with an antiviral gene therapy. Defyrus is hoping to test the safety of the treatment in humans in a phase I clinical trial set to begin before the end of 2014.

Thomas Bowden, a structural biologist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, noted that,

“This is certainly a viable strategy, and they have only a few steps before they can go through to humans.”

How the deadly Ebola came back to Uganda

By Francis Kagolo and Ismael Kasooha
New Vision

Aug 12, 2012. Fifty two days after the first patient died of Ebola in Uganda’s Kibaale district, the outbreak is still shrouded in mystery.

Health workers prepare to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital, Uganda (Source: New Vision).

A mother left her two-month-old baby sleeping in a mud and wattle hut and went to her crop garden. On return, she found the baby dead. The baby’s left palm had the sign of an animal bite. Neighbors who spoke to Sunday Vision suspected that it could have been a monkey, but no one really saw it.

About 300 meters away from the family is a 10-acre forest. and there are bushes in between, so it would have been possible for a monkey or any other small animal to move unnoticed.

Two days later, a 15-year-old girl, Winnie Mbabazi, who touched the baby’s wound, became sick; she died on June 21. Eventually, nine members of the family died, but the baby’s mother did not become sick. Then the baby’s father, Fred Bahemuka and a paternal uncle fell sick.

According to the national Ebola task force, Mbabazi was the first patient. However, the locals insist she got the disease from the baby. Medical theory indicates that an Ebola outbreak starts when an infected animal, most likely a monkey or a bat, infects a human being. She/He then infects other people through direct contact.

It is unclear, however, how animals become infected and where the virus hides in the environment before infecting animals.

Critics have blamed the Ministry of Health for taking too long to diagnose Ebola. By the time the ministry announced it was Ebola on July 24, 2012 the epidemic had gone on for 37 days, killing 14 people including a clinical officer.

The ministry, on the other hand, says the outbreak was confusing because it did not show the typical symptoms. Tests have shown that the current epidemic has been caused by a strain of the virus known as Ebola Sudan. However, its signs are different from the previously known Ebola Sudan outbreaks.

According to a press statement released by the health ministry during the week of August 6, 2012, the number of people contracting Ebola had reduced significantly due to increased public awareness. No case has been reported outside Kibaale, says the statement signed by Dr. Denis Lwamafa on behalf of the Director General of Health Services.

By Thursday, August 9, 2012, 190 out of the 408 people being observed after coming in contact with Ebola patients had been declared free of the disease after they did not become sick within 21 days: the maximum incubation period. The ward had only three Ebola patients, of whom one was recovering.

What next?

But the campaign has not been without challenges and, as Dr. Mbonye argues, the Kibaale outbreak should be a lesson.

“The Government should have an emergency fund for epidemics because every time we are faced with outbreaks, the ministry has to run to Cabinet and Parliament to ask for funds. This consumes a lot of time as people are dying. At least sh2b should be earmarked for epidemics annually,” said Mbonye.

Nearly half the budget for the campaign against Ebola (about sh800m) has come from donors, and officials argue it is disastrous to depend on donors for epidemics response. Mbonye also says that Uganda needs permanent structures for isolation centers and standby equipment.

Health ministry’s take

According to Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for health service and head of community health, it is unusual for an Ebola patient to bleed after, rather than before death as was the case in Kibaale. The patients had high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach aches. Most of them were not bleeding until after death. It was initially mistaken for malaria.

Mbonye says the health ministry is preparing to conduct ecological studies in the area to investigate the cause of the outbreak. It might involve catching monkey, rodents, bats and other wild animals and testing them for the virus.

“We infer that Ebola spreads from primates, rodents and birds and the index case would be living near forests where such animals are.

“But we have never understood the exact animal reservoir. In Luweero we slaughtered monkeys and birds in pursuit of the cause but the results were negative,” says Mbonye.

“What we know is that Ebola is highly infectious.

“If an infected monkey, for instance, ate part of a fruit, you don’t need to eat it to catch the virus; you can get infected if you touch it and don’t disinfect your hands.”

Effect on tourism not as bad as earlier feared

Although the current outbreak is small, it has a big impact on the economy. Already the tourism sector, which fetches about $800m to the national GDP annually, has begun feeling the pinch as some tourists cancel trips for fear of catching the deadly contagious virus.

The Associated Press last week quoted British businessman John Hunwick saying his clients were “absolutely petrified” and wanted to go home, and that he lost $6,000 in cancelled tours on July 31, 2012.

But Amos Wekesa, a private tour operator, commends the Government’s openness in combating the outbreak. Wekesa said tourists had started making bookings again after they were assured that the situation was under control.

Sources: io9 | New Vision | Featured photograph: Medical workers in protective gear leave an Ebola isolation camp during the 2007 outbreak in Uganda (Source: New Vision files).

Scientists cure ebola in monkeys — and humans could be next

By George Dvorsky
io9

June 13, 2012. Monkeys infected with the Ebola virus have been cured by a chemical cocktail administered 24 hours after the initial exposure. The breakthrough could eventually result in a similar human treatment for this disease, which kills up to 90% of those infected.

3D image of Ebola virus (Source: Shutterstock.com/Creations).

According to the report in Nature, researchers based at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, administered three different antibodies to macaques monkeys infected with the Zaire virus — the deadliest strain of Ebola, and a scourge to those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. The concoction, named ZMAb, was given to two monkeys 24 hours after being infected, and the other two 48 hours after infection – and all four survived without side effects. One monkey that was not treated died within five days of the infection.

Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist working at the University of Manitoba, led the study. The results were published today in Science Translational Medicine.

The treatment works by having the antibodies slow down the replication rate of the virus in the infected monkey until its own immune system is able to kick-in and finish the job. The antibodies were derived from mice who were vaccinated with fragments of the virus. The antibodies target and neutralize a glycoprotein on the surface of the virus that allows it to enter and infect cells. Unlike other treatments, Kobinger’s cocktail contains multiple antibodies that individually target different locations of the glycoprotein, making it harder for the Ebola virus to resist attack.

The antibodies themselves are being developed by a biotechnology firm based in Toronto, Canada, called Defyrus. They are working on a larger Ebola treatment called Defilovir, which, along with the antibodies, is expected to work in tandem with an antiviral gene therapy. Defyrus is hoping to test the safety of the treatment in humans in a phase I clinical trial set to begin before the end of 2014.

Thomas Bowden, a structural biologist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, noted that,

“This is certainly a viable strategy, and they have only a few steps before they can go through to humans.”

 

Source: io9 | Nature | Science

 

How the deadly Ebola came back to Uganda

By Francis Kagolo and Ismael Kasooha
New Vision

Fifty two days after the first patient died of Ebola in Kibaale district, the outbreak is still shrouded in mystery. A mother left her two-month-old baby sleeping in a mud and wattle hut and went to her crop garden.

Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital, Uganda.

On return, she found the baby dead. The baby’s left palm had the sign of an animal bite. Neighbours who spoke to Sunday Vision suspected that it could have been a monkey, but no one really saw it.

About 300 metres away from the family is a 10-acre forest and there are bushes in between, so it would be possible for a monkey or any other small animal to move unnoticed.

Two days later, a 15-year-old girl, Winnie Mbabazi, who touched the baby’s wound, became sick and died on June 21. Eventually, nine members of the family died but the baby’s mother did not become sick. Then the baby’s father, Fred Bahemuka and a paternal uncle fell sick.

According to the national Ebola task force, Mbabazi was the first patient.

However, the locals insist she got the disease from the baby. Medical theory indicates that an Ebola outbreak starts when an infected animal, most likely a monkey or a bat, infects a human being. Through direct contact, she/he then infects other people.

However, it is not clear how animals become infected and where the virus hides in the environment before infecting animals.

Critics have blamed the Ministry of Health for taking long to diagnose Ebola.

By the time the ministry announced it was Ebola on July 24, the epidemic had gone on for 37 days, killing 14 people including a clinical officer.

The ministry, on the other hand, says the outbreak was confusing because it did not show the typical symptoms. Tests have shown that the current epidemic has been caused by a strain of the virus known as Ebola Sudan. However, its signs are different from the previously known Ebola Sudan outbreaks.

According to a press statement released by the health ministry last week, the number of people contracting Ebola had reduced significantly due to increased public awareness. No case has been reported outside Kibaale, says the statement signed by Dr. Denis Lwamafa on behalf of the Director General of Health Services.

By Thursday, 190 out of the 408 people being observed after coming in contact with ebola patients had been declared free of the disease after they did not become sick within 21 days, the maximum incubation period. The ward had only three Ebola patients, of whom one was recovering.

What next?

But the campaign has not been without challenges and, as Dr. Mbonye argues, the Kibaale outbreak should be a lesson.

“The Government should have an emergency fund for epidemics because every time we are faced with outbreaks, the ministry has to run to Cabinet and Parliament to ask for funds. This consumes a lot of time as people are dying. At least sh2b should be earmarked for epidemics annually,” said Mbonye.

Nearly half the budget for the campaign against Ebola (about sh800m) has come from donors, and offi cials argue it is disastrous to depend on donors for epidemics response.

Mbonye also says that Uganda needs permanent structures for isolation centres and standby equipment.

Health ministry’s take

According to Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for health service and head of community health, it is unusual for an Ebola patient to bleed after, rather than before death as was the case in Kibaale. The patients had high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach aches. Most of them were not bleeding until after death. It was initially mistaken for malaria.

Mbonye says the health ministry is preparing to conduct ecological studies in the area to investigate the cause of the outbreak. It might involve catching monkey, rodents, bats and other wild animals and testing them for the virus.

“We infer that Ebola spreads from primates, rodents and birds and the index case would be living near forests where such animals are.

But we have never understood the exact animal reservoir. In Luweero we slaughtered monkeys and birds in pursuit of the cause but the results were negative,” says Mbonye. “What we know is that Ebola is highly infectious.

If an infected monkey, for instance, ate part of a fruit, you don’t need to eat it to catch the virus; you can get infected if you touch it and don’t disinfect your hands.”

Effect on tourism not as bad as earlier feared

Although the current outbreak is small, it has a big impact on the economy. Already the tourism sector, which fetches about $800m to the national GDP annually, has begun feeling the pinch as some tourists cancel trips for fear of catching the deadly contagious virus.

The Associated Press last week quoted British businessman John Hunwick saying his clients were “absolutely petrified” and wanted to go home, and that he lost $6,000 in cancelled tours on July 31.

But Amos Wekesa, a private tour operator, commends the Government’s openness in combating the outbreak. Wekesa said tourists had started making bookings again after they were assured that the situation was under control.
Source: New Vision

 

Scientists cure ebola in monkeys — and humans could be next

By George Dvorsky
io9

June 13, 2012. Monkeys infected with the Ebola virus have been cured by a chemical cocktail administered 24 hours after the initial exposure. The breakthrough could eventually result in a similar human treatment for this disease, which kills up to 90% of those infected.

3D image of Ebola virus (Source: Shutterstock.com/Creations).

According to the report in Nature, researchers based at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, administered three different antibodies to macaques monkeys infected with the Zaire virus — the deadliest strain of Ebola, and a scourge to those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. The concoction, named ZMAb, was given to two monkeys 24 hours after being infected, and the other two 48 hours after infection – and all four survived without side effects. One monkey that was not treated died within five days of the infection.

Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist working at the University of Manitoba, led the study. The results were published today in Science Translational Medicine.

The treatment works by having the antibodies slow down the replication rate of the virus in the infected monkey until its own immune system is able to kick-in and finish the job. The antibodies were derived from mice who were vaccinated with fragments of the virus. The antibodies target and neutralize a glycoprotein on the surface of the virus that allows it to enter and infect cells. Unlike other treatments, Kobinger’s cocktail contains multiple antibodies that individually target different locations of the glycoprotein, making it harder for the Ebola virus to resist attack.

The antibodies themselves are being developed by a biotechnology firm based in Toronto, Canada, called Defyrus. They are working on a larger Ebola treatment called Defilovir, which, along with the antibodies, is expected to work in tandem with an antiviral gene therapy. Defyrus is hoping to test the safety of the treatment in humans in a phase I clinical trial set to begin before the end of 2014.

Thomas Bowden, a structural biologist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, noted that,

“This is certainly a viable strategy, and they have only a few steps before they can go through to humans.”

 

Source: io9 | Nature | Science

 

How the deadly Ebola came back to Uganda

By Francis Kagolo and Ismael Kasooha
New Vision

Fifty two days after the first patient died of Ebola in Kibaale district, the outbreak is still shrouded in mystery. A mother left her two-month-old baby sleeping in a mud and wattle hut and went to her crop garden.

Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital, Uganda.

On return, she found the baby dead. The baby’s left palm had the sign of an animal bite. Neighbours who spoke to Sunday Vision suspected that it could have been a monkey, but no one really saw it.

About 300 metres away from the family is a 10-acre forest and there are bushes in between, so it would be possible for a monkey or any other small animal to move unnoticed.

Two days later, a 15-year-old girl, Winnie Mbabazi, who touched the baby’s wound, became sick and died on June 21. Eventually, nine members of the family died but the baby’s mother did not become sick. Then the baby’s father, Fred Bahemuka and a paternal uncle fell sick.

According to the national Ebola task force, Mbabazi was the first patient.

However, the locals insist she got the disease from the baby. Medical theory indicates that an Ebola outbreak starts when an infected animal, most likely a monkey or a bat, infects a human being. Through direct contact, she/he then infects other people.

However, it is not clear how animals become infected and where the virus hides in the environment before infecting animals.

Critics have blamed the Ministry of Health for taking long to diagnose Ebola.

By the time the ministry announced it was Ebola on July 24, the epidemic had gone on for 37 days, killing 14 people including a clinical officer.

The ministry, on the other hand, says the outbreak was confusing because it did not show the typical symptoms. Tests have shown that the current epidemic has been caused by a strain of the virus known as Ebola Sudan. However, its signs are different from the previously known Ebola Sudan outbreaks.

According to a press statement released by the health ministry last week, the number of people contracting Ebola had reduced significantly due to increased public awareness. No case has been reported outside Kibaale, says the statement signed by Dr. Denis Lwamafa on behalf of the Director General of Health Services.

By Thursday, 190 out of the 408 people being observed after coming in contact with ebola patients had been declared free of the disease after they did not become sick within 21 days, the maximum incubation period. The ward had only three Ebola patients, of whom one was recovering.

What next?

But the campaign has not been without challenges and, as Dr. Mbonye argues, the Kibaale outbreak should be a lesson.

“The Government should have an emergency fund for epidemics because every time we are faced with outbreaks, the ministry has to run to Cabinet and Parliament to ask for funds. This consumes a lot of time as people are dying. At least sh2b should be earmarked for epidemics annually,” said Mbonye.

Nearly half the budget for the campaign against Ebola (about sh800m) has come from donors, and offi cials argue it is disastrous to depend on donors for epidemics response.

Mbonye also says that Uganda needs permanent structures for isolation centres and standby equipment.

Health ministry’s take

According to Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for health service and head of community health, it is unusual for an Ebola patient to bleed after, rather than before death as was the case in Kibaale. The patients had high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach aches. Most of them were not bleeding until after death. It was initially mistaken for malaria.

Mbonye says the health ministry is preparing to conduct ecological studies in the area to investigate the cause of the outbreak. It might involve catching monkey, rodents, bats and other wild animals and testing them for the virus.

“We infer that Ebola spreads from primates, rodents and birds and the index case would be living near forests where such animals are.

But we have never understood the exact animal reservoir. In Luweero we slaughtered monkeys and birds in pursuit of the cause but the results were negative,” says Mbonye. “What we know is that Ebola is highly infectious.

If an infected monkey, for instance, ate part of a fruit, you don’t need to eat it to catch the virus; you can get infected if you touch it and don’t disinfect your hands.”

Effect on tourism not as bad as earlier feared

Although the current outbreak is small, it has a big impact on the economy. Already the tourism sector, which fetches about $800m to the national GDP annually, has begun feeling the pinch as some tourists cancel trips for fear of catching the deadly contagious virus.

The Associated Press last week quoted British businessman John Hunwick saying his clients were “absolutely petrified” and wanted to go home, and that he lost $6,000 in cancelled tours on July 31.

But Amos Wekesa, a private tour operator, commends the Government’s openness in combating the outbreak. Wekesa said tourists had started making bookings again after they were assured that the situation was under control.
Source: New Vision

 

Scientists cure ebola in monkeys — and humans could be next

By George Dvorsky
io9

June 13, 2012. Monkeys infected with the Ebola virus have been cured by a chemical cocktail administered 24 hours after the initial exposure. The breakthrough could eventually result in a similar human treatment for this disease, which kills up to 90% of those infected.

3D image of Ebola virus (Source: Shutterstock.com/Creations).

According to the report in Nature, researchers based at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, administered three different antibodies to macaques monkeys infected with the Zaire virus — the deadliest strain of Ebola, and a scourge to those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. The concoction, named ZMAb, was given to two monkeys 24 hours after being infected, and the other two 48 hours after infection – and all four survived without side effects. One monkey that was not treated died within five days of the infection.

Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist working at the University of Manitoba, led the study. The results were published today in Science Translational Medicine.

The treatment works by having the antibodies slow down the replication rate of the virus in the infected monkey until its own immune system is able to kick-in and finish the job. The antibodies were derived from mice who were vaccinated with fragments of the virus. The antibodies target and neutralize a glycoprotein on the surface of the virus that allows it to enter and infect cells. Unlike other treatments, Kobinger’s cocktail contains multiple antibodies that individually target different locations of the glycoprotein, making it harder for the Ebola virus to resist attack.

The antibodies themselves are being developed by a biotechnology firm based in Toronto, Canada, called Defyrus. They are working on a larger Ebola treatment called Defilovir, which, along with the antibodies, is expected to work in tandem with an antiviral gene therapy. Defyrus is hoping to test the safety of the treatment in humans in a phase I clinical trial set to begin before the end of 2014.

Thomas Bowden, a structural biologist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, noted that,

“This is certainly a viable strategy, and they have only a few steps before they can go through to humans.”

 

Source: io9 | Nature | Science

 

How the deadly Ebola came back to Uganda

By Francis Kagolo and Ismael Kasooha
New Vision

Fifty two days after the first patient died of Ebola in Kibaale district, the outbreak is still shrouded in mystery. A mother left her two-month-old baby sleeping in a mud and wattle hut and went to her crop garden.

Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital, Uganda.

On return, she found the baby dead. The baby’s left palm had the sign of an animal bite. Neighbours who spoke to Sunday Vision suspected that it could have been a monkey, but no one really saw it.

About 300 metres away from the family is a 10-acre forest and there are bushes in between, so it would be possible for a monkey or any other small animal to move unnoticed.

Two days later, a 15-year-old girl, Winnie Mbabazi, who touched the baby’s wound, became sick and died on June 21. Eventually, nine members of the family died but the baby’s mother did not become sick. Then the baby’s father, Fred Bahemuka and a paternal uncle fell sick.

According to the national Ebola task force, Mbabazi was the first patient.

However, the locals insist she got the disease from the baby. Medical theory indicates that an Ebola outbreak starts when an infected animal, most likely a monkey or a bat, infects a human being. Through direct contact, she/he then infects other people.

However, it is not clear how animals become infected and where the virus hides in the environment before infecting animals.

Critics have blamed the Ministry of Health for taking long to diagnose Ebola.

By the time the ministry announced it was Ebola on July 24, the epidemic had gone on for 37 days, killing 14 people including a clinical officer.

The ministry, on the other hand, says the outbreak was confusing because it did not show the typical symptoms. Tests have shown that the current epidemic has been caused by a strain of the virus known as Ebola Sudan. However, its signs are different from the previously known Ebola Sudan outbreaks.

According to a press statement released by the health ministry last week, the number of people contracting Ebola had reduced significantly due to increased public awareness. No case has been reported outside Kibaale, says the statement signed by Dr. Denis Lwamafa on behalf of the Director General of Health Services.

By Thursday, 190 out of the 408 people being observed after coming in contact with ebola patients had been declared free of the disease after they did not become sick within 21 days, the maximum incubation period. The ward had only three Ebola patients, of whom one was recovering.

What next?

But the campaign has not been without challenges and, as Dr. Mbonye argues, the Kibaale outbreak should be a lesson.

“The Government should have an emergency fund for epidemics because every time we are faced with outbreaks, the ministry has to run to Cabinet and Parliament to ask for funds. This consumes a lot of time as people are dying. At least sh2b should be earmarked for epidemics annually,” said Mbonye.

Nearly half the budget for the campaign against Ebola (about sh800m) has come from donors, and offi cials argue it is disastrous to depend on donors for epidemics response.

Mbonye also says that Uganda needs permanent structures for isolation centres and standby equipment.

Health ministry’s take

According to Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for health service and head of community health, it is unusual for an Ebola patient to bleed after, rather than before death as was the case in Kibaale. The patients had high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach aches. Most of them were not bleeding until after death. It was initially mistaken for malaria.

Mbonye says the health ministry is preparing to conduct ecological studies in the area to investigate the cause of the outbreak. It might involve catching monkey, rodents, bats and other wild animals and testing them for the virus.

“We infer that Ebola spreads from primates, rodents and birds and the index case would be living near forests where such animals are.

But we have never understood the exact animal reservoir. In Luweero we slaughtered monkeys and birds in pursuit of the cause but the results were negative,” says Mbonye. “What we know is that Ebola is highly infectious.

If an infected monkey, for instance, ate part of a fruit, you don’t need to eat it to catch the virus; you can get infected if you touch it and don’t disinfect your hands.”

Effect on tourism not as bad as earlier feared

Although the current outbreak is small, it has a big impact on the economy. Already the tourism sector, which fetches about $800m to the national GDP annually, has begun feeling the pinch as some tourists cancel trips for fear of catching the deadly contagious virus.

The Associated Press last week quoted British businessman John Hunwick saying his clients were “absolutely petrified” and wanted to go home, and that he lost $6,000 in cancelled tours on July 31.

But Amos Wekesa, a private tour operator, commends the Government’s openness in combating the outbreak. Wekesa said tourists had started making bookings again after they were assured that the situation was under control.
Source: New Vision

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