Marburg Disease going unreported as cases continue to grow in Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • Cases of Marburg going unreported in Equatorial Guinea, WHO says
  • The Marburg outbreak in Equatorial Guinea continues to grow, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, as the global health agency stated that it knows of confirmed cases that the country has not yet reported.
  • To date Equatorial Guinea has acknowledged nine laboratory-confirmed cases, seven of whom have died. In addition, 20 other people with links to the confirmed cases died without being tested; they are considered probable cases. Throughout this outbreak, which is believed to have begun in early January, the government has been slow to release updates; last week the WHO expressed fears there may be undetected chains of transmission.
  • Marburg virus disease is caused by a filovirus, which is the family to which Ebola viruses belong.
  • Marburg has a high case fatality rate.
  • Marburg outbreaks are typically smaller than Ebola outbreaks, with the largest on record encompassing 252 cases, 227 of whom died.

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U.S. traffic deaths soar to 38,680 in 2020; highest yearly total since 2007

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. traffic deaths soared dramatically after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020, hitting the highest yearly total since 2007 as more Americans engaged in unsafe behavior on U.S. roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Thursday.

For all of 2020, 38,680 people died on U.S. roads – up 7.2% or nearly 2,600 more than in 2019, even though Americans drove 13% fewer miles, preliminary data shows. The fatality rate hit 1.37 deaths per 100 million miles, the highest figure since 2006.

In the second half of 2020, the number of traffic deaths was up more than 13%.

NHTSA said the main behaviors that drove this increase include: impaired driving, speeding and failure to wear seat belts.

“We intend to use all available tools to reverse these trends and reduce traffic fatalities and injuries,” said acting NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff.

In an open letter to drivers in January, NHTSA urged action to address the “terrible trend.”

The agency’s letter said “fewer Americans drove but those who did took more risks and had more fatal crashes. … It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which not only puts your life at risk but the lives of others.”

Some experts say that as U.S. roads became less crowded, some motorists engaged in more unsafe behavior, including those who perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19, and data suggests a higher number of serious crashes last year involved drug or alcohol use than previously.

NHTSA said in October a study of early crash data after the pandemic lockdowns found that “drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Exclusive: U.S. traffic deaths fell after coronavirus lockdown, but drivers got riskier

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. traffic deaths fell during the coronavirus lockdowns but drivers engaged in riskier behavior as the fatality rate spiked to its highest level in 15 years, a government report set to be released Thursday will show.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the fatality rate jumped to 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the three months ending June 30, the highest since 2005.

At the same time, overall traffic deaths fell by 3.3% to 8,870 while U.S. driving fell by about 26%, or 302 fewer over the same period in 2019, according to the report reviewed by Reuters.

NHTSA’s study showed “drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

By contrast, the fatality rate for 2019 was just 1.10 deaths per 100 million miles, the lowest rate since 2014 as traffic deaths fell by 2% to 36,096.

Traffic data showed average speeds increased and extreme speeding became more common. Data from some states suggested that fewer people were wearing seat belts during the lockdown.

“In short, the stay-at-home orders may have led the population of drivers during the height of the health crisis to have been smaller but more willing to take risks,” NHTSA found.

NHTSA also noted that in the wake of the outbreak enforcement of some traffic laws was reduced. “It is possible that drivers’ perception that they may be caught breaking a law was reduced,” the report found.

NHTSA also said that since coronavirus risks are higher for older Americans, that could have minimized driving by more risk-averse drivers.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Data suggests virus infections under-reported, exaggerating fatality rate

Data suggests virus infections under-reported, exaggerating fatality rate
By Cate Cadell

BEIJING (Reuters) – Fatalities from the coronavirus epidemic are overwhelmingly concentrated in central China’s Wuhan city, which accounts for over 73% of deaths despite having only one-third the number of confirmed infections.

In Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, one person has died for every 23 infections reported. That number drops to one on 50 nationally, and outside mainland China, one death has been recorded per 114 confirmed cases.

Get Reuters full coverage on the coronavirus by following this link.

Experts say the discrepancy is mainly due to under-reporting of milder virus cases in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province that are grappling with shortages in testing equipment and beds.

“In an outbreak your really have to interpret fatality rates with a very skeptical eye, because often it’s only the very severe cases that are coming to people’s attention,” said Amesh Adalja, an expert in pandemic preparedness at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

“It’s very hard to say those numbers represent anything like the true burden of infection” said Adalja, who estimates current fatality rates are likely below 1%.

As of Tuesday, 24,551 cases have been confirmed globally. A 1% fatality rate would put total cases at over 49,000, based on the current death toll of 492.

Gauden Galea, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative for China, told Reuters on Sunday that a “crude calculation” done by dividing total cases by deaths put the rate at 2% and said the rate was generally falling.

“Trying to really demystify those fatality numbers by including mildly symptomatic cases will help people to better understand the risk,” said Adalja.


In Wuhan, some patients with milder symptoms have been turned away from hospitals in recent weeks because of the strain on resources, several people in the city told Reuters. Others have opted to self-isolate.

Wuhan resident Meiping Wang said she and her sister both believe they have mild cases of the virus after their mother tested positive, but have not been tested.

“There is no use going to the hospital because there is no treatment,” Wang, 31, said in a telephone interview.

Under-reporting mild cases – which increases fatality rates – could have a negative social and economic impact as global health authorities race to contain the disease.

“It’s good to remember that when H1N1 influenza came out in 2009, estimates of case fatality were 10 percent,” said David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, who was working in public health at the time. “That turned out to be incredibly wrong.”

“As the denominator is growing in terms of case numbers, and case fatality goes down and down… you start to realize it’s everywhere,” he said.

The global response to the coronavirus epidemic has been swift and fierce. Several countries have implemented partial or full travel bans on Chinese travelers.

“There are many actions going on all over the world that really are premised on the idea that this is a very severe illness,” said Johns Hopkins’ Adalja.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that the bans were an unnecessary interruption to travel and trade.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)