Pestilence Update

‘Nothing short of terrifying’: Ebola death toll to hit 1,000 as lethal virus spreads. Fearful sights, perilous times, men’s hearts failing with fear, increasing pestilence in diverse places.

Blog note. Jesus indicated that ‘fearful sights’ (various natural disasters) would occur leading up to the time known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (a combined seven year period of great destruction on earth). Although these types of things have occurred in the past for centuries and thousands of years, they could be identified as the ‘season of the times’ due to the ferociousness of these events. They would be occurring in greater intensity, severity, frequency, size, duration, scope … just like the pains that a woman experiences in labor the farther along she is in the labor process. We are in the ‘season of the times’ that comes just before the seven (7) year Tribulation/Great Tribulation period
… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).
… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)
… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)
… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor.

‘Nothing short of terrifying’: Ebola death toll to hit 1,000 as lethal virus spreads. Fearful sights, perilous times, men’s hearts failing with fear, increasing pestilence in diverse places.

Sarah Newey. The Telegraph•May 3, 2019

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo will hit 1,000 later today, raising concerns the outbreak is escalating and could yet spiral out of control. 

It is already the second worst Ebola outbreak in history, although some way behind the 2014 West Africa epidemic which killed 11,000 people.

As of Thursday evening, 994 people had died from the deadly disease. But according to the World Health Organization, this figure will surpass 1,000 when the DRC’s Ministry of Health releases its daily figures later tonight. 

Since the outbreak began last August, less than a third of those infected have survived.

As recently as mid-March, the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisted that the crisis was being brought under control, with reported cases dropping and the deadly disease contained to just two hotspots – Butembo and Katwa.  

But since Dr Tedros’ assertion the epidemic has rapidly escalated, with several grim milestones reached this week. 

On Tuesday, the DRC’s Ministry of Health confirmed that 26 people had died from the virus – the highest death toll on a single day. And with 126 new infections reported, this week has seen more cases than any other since the epidemic was confirmed in North Kivu last August.

April has also been the worst month of the outbreak to date, with 406 cases reported. This month alone would constitute the third-largest outbreak in history, according to the US Centre for Disease control and Protection. 

“The numbers are nothing short of terrifying, with children accounting for a third of all diagnosed cases and more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history, bar the West Africa epidemic,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust. 

“But there can be no doubt that the situation is escalating towards those terrible levels.”

There are also concerns that the epidemic might have crossed international lines, with Uganda on high alert following the death of a potential Ebola patient. The current outbreak is close to the country’s border, which hundreds of people cross every week.

This is the tenth Ebola epidemic in the DRC, where the virus was first identified in 1976. 

“The reason this outbreak is difficult to control is mainly related to the context we are working in,” Dr Michel Yao, head of Ebola operations for the WHO in DRC, told The Telegraph from Butembo. 

“If we look carefully we have had three waves [of cases]. We controlled two waves, but this last wave is mainly in Butembo – it’s where we have the most challenges,” he added.

Mistrust has hindered efforts to rapidly contain the highly contagious disease, with a quarter of people in the region believing that the Ebola virus does not exist. Others have accused the authorities of fabricating the outbreak for political gain – voters in the region were not able to partake in national elections in February due to the crisis.

Violence is also rife. The area surrounding Butembo has been at the centre of conflict for more than two decades, and over one hundred armed groups are in operation in the region. 

There have been 119 separate attacks recorded against Ebola workers or operations since January, according to the WHO. Health workers have been wounded or killed in of these 85 incidents. 

“Every time there is a security incident, essential response activities are suspended for an indefinite period, giving time and space for the virus to further spread in the community,” Dr. Oly Ilunga, the DRC’s Minister of Health, told The Telegraph.

The recent spike in cases is in part because efforts to control Ebola were temporarily halted following a string of attacks on treatment centres, threats against health workers and the murder of a WHO epidemiologist.

Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, from Cameroon, was killed two weeks ago when gunmen stormed Butembo University hospital. Authorities say 11 suspects have been arrested in connection to the attack.

“Of course I’m scared because of what happened to my colleague, [who was] a very nice, hardworking guy,” said Dr Yao. “For me it is my top priority to ensure all my staff are working in a safe and secure environment.”

Dr Yao added that, despite the risk of both violence and contracting Ebola – 33 health workers have died from the virus – very few have left.

“We relocated most people who directly witnessed the killing, but most of them have returned. Very, very few [health workers] have decided to leave because we cannot leave this population with Ebola virus, it is too dangerous to do so.”

But Dr Mouzoko’s death triggered peaceful demonstrations from health workers across the country, many of whom are concerned about their safety and have threatened to strike if attacks continue.

“I think it’s a bit of a crisis moment, it was getting to be a crisis 10 days ago and, if anything, it’s got worse,” said AnneMarie Pegg, clinical lead for epidemic response and vaccination at Médecins Sans Frontières.

“This is the moment now that alternative strategies need to be accepted and pushed forward.”

In mid-April, an emergency WHO committee stopped short of calling the outbreak an international crisis. But the panel said better community relations would be critical to the success of strategies such as safe burials, vaccination campaigns and the rapid identification of potential infections.

An experimental vaccine has been widely heralded as preventing a larger outbreak. In a study of 90,000 people who have received the vaccine – in a technique called “ring vaccination” – just 71 went on to develop Ebola and none died, according to a WHO announcement earlier this month.

But there is concern that the vaccine is not reaching everyone who has been exposed to the virus. Compared to January – which saw 161 cases recorded and was before violence escalated – there has been a 13 per cent drop in vaccine doses delivered.

“Funding is critical, but no amount will be enough if the approach isn’t right,” said Dr Farrar. “There is an urgent need to roll out the second Ebola vaccine to protect those in districts neighbouring the current epidemic zone.

“Both the WHO and the incoming DRC prime minister must be bold in addressing the issues of trust and security challenges and bring all the interventions available to bear in this frightening phase of the epidemic. Failure to act now would be a catastrophe,” he added. 

Earlier this week, Dr Tedros and the WHO regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, spent time with Butembo’s political, religious and business leaders in an attempt to improve both community relations and the safety of health workers.

“This worrisome rise in cases is a further call to action”, said Dr Moeti. “In the end, it is only through the ownership by all the affected communities that the outbreak will end.”

She added that additional resources from the international community are required to bring the outbreak under control. The WHO has said on Friday that the emergency response currently has a funding gap of at least US$54 million.

“Some would have Ebola drive us apart. We can only defeat it if we all work together,” Dr Moeti said.

Categories: Pestilence Update

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