Ebola

The Independent reports that the World Health Authority missed the Ebola outbreak, according to aid agencies.

After the shock of Ebola comes inevitable blame and recrimination. This weekend questions are being asked about who is to blame for a collective failure to recognise and respond to what was, and remains, West Africa’s tragedy.

At the centre of the growing outrage is the World Health Organisation (WHO) which, as the UN’s health agency, is charged with “providing leadership” world health matters.

Aid agencies, such as Oxfam yesterday, are warning that Ebola will become the “disaster of our time”. It is being compared with the HIV/Aids epidemic, having already accounted for more than 4,500 confirmed deaths, with the true mortality toll estimated by some at more than 12,000.

And the outbreak could get worse, says Brietbart.

On March 25th the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a rash of cases of Ebola in Guinea, the first such ever seen in west Africa. As of then there had been 86 suspected cases, and there were reports of suspected cases in the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia as well. The death toll was 60.

On October 15th the WHO released its latest update. The outbreak has now seen 8,997 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola. All but 24 of those have been in Guinea (16% of the total), Sierra Leone (36%) and Liberia (47%). The current death toll is 4,493. These numbers are underestimates; many cases, in some places probably most, go unreported.

This all pales, though, compared with what is to come. The WHO fears it could see between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases reported a week by the beginning of December; that is, as many cases each week as have been seen in the entire outbreak up to this point. This is the terrifying thing about exponential growth as applied to disease: what is happening now, and what happens next, is always as bad as the sum of everything that has happened to date.

The Guardian reports that officials are playing down the epidemic and that Ebola deaths in Liberia are ‘far higher than reported’.

The true death toll from the Ebola epidemic is being masked by chaotic data collection and people’s reluctance to admit that their loved ones had the virus, according to one of west Africa’s most celebrated film-makers.

Sorious Samura, who has just returned from making a documentary on the crisis in Liberia, said it is very clear on the ground that the true number of dead is far higher than the official figures being reported by the World Health Organisation.

Liberia accounts for more than half of all the official Ebola deaths, with a total of 2,458. Overall, the number of dead across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has exceeded 4,500.

Immigration

The Guardian claims that more immigrants have been allowed to remain in the country after the Home Office withdrew thousands of decisions to expel them after these decisions were appealed.

 Thousands of decisions by the Home Office to refuse asylum seekers and migrants permission to remain in the UK have been withdrawn before a series of appeals.

A letter to Labour MP Paul Blomfield from Home Office minister James Brokenshire, filed in the parliamentary library, highlights official figures showing that on more than 3,000 occasions in the year to 12 December 2013, the home secretary, Theresa May, withdrew her department’s decision about an applicant’s immigration status as appeals were put in place. More than 200 of these were asylum claims, while over 2,000 related to “temporary migrants” – chiefly people who have come to the UK for a short period.

Critics say the Home Office’s actions have left the immigration status of some claimants unclear, contributing to a backlog of cases that have yet to be decided. “It’s another example of chaos within the Home Office,” Blomfield said. “There are victims at the centre of it all who have bona fide applications and are being left in legal limbo.”

And the Prime Minister claims he can slash migration from the EU by setting a cap on numbers, according to the Sunday Times.

DAVID CAMERON plans to slash EU migration by imposing an annual cap on the number of national insurance numbers given to low-skilled immigrants from Europe.

Under plans being drawn up in Downing Street, new arrivals would get a national insurance number only for a limited period, to prevent them from coming to Britain to work and claim tax credits indefinitely.

Cabinet sources have told The Sunday Times that the national insurance cap will be a centrepiece of the prime minister’s planned speech announcing a tougher immigration policy designed to win back voters from Ukip.

Disabled

Following comments made by Lord Freud that disabled people ‘are not worth the full minimum wage’, the Independent reports a Justice minister who has said the disabled are ‘grateful to have a job’.

Andrew Selous, a Justice minister and former parliamentary aide to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, told a fringe meeting that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”.

His comments are revealed just days after David Cameron faced calls to sack Lord Freud as Welfare Reform minister after a recording emerged of him telling a separate fringe meeting that disabled people were “not worth” the full minimum wage. The IoS has learned that Labour will hold a vote of no confidence in Lord Freud, in the Commons. Labour will table the motion tomorrow and the vote will be on 29 October, the first available opportunity, when it has its opposition day debate. Labour sources said the pressure would be on the Lib Dems to back the motion after Nick Clegg said last week that Lord Freud’s comments were “deeply distressing and offensive”.

Jihadists

Cameron’s plan to charge jihadists with treason will not work, according a terror expert in the Independent.

Britain’s “lock-them- up” approach to dealing with returning British jihadist fighters is doomed to failure and risks making it harder to find potential terrorists, warned one of the world’s leading terror experts yesterday.

“Britain needs a more differentiated strategy towards people returning from conflict in Syria and Iraq,” said Professor Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London.

Professor Neumann will tell MPs in Parliament tomorrow that a punitive approach, which includes prosecuting people for treason, is misguided. “Right now the strategy is very much we’re going to lock them up – we’re going to try them for treason. It’s a strategy that is based basically only on a punitive approach.” The academic, a senior adviser on the UN Security Council resolution introduced by President Obama earlier this year, calling for global action to tackle the threat, added: “While that may be correct for some, there are also a number of other categories of people that could be dealt with differently.”

Danger on our coasts

The Express claims an exclusive in a story that claims coastguard numbers are falling along our shoreline, jeopardising those who use the coast.

SAFETY along Britain’s coastline is being “comprised” by a worsening staffing crisis across the country’s coastguard stations.

Shock new figures show that during the busy summer season Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC) were understaffed by up to 97 per cent.

Aberdeen was the worst hit, with 97 per cent of shifts staffed at unsafe levels last month and in July, followed by Dover where 91.9 per cent of shifts fell below the required level in August.

The Thames station saw 87.1 per cent of its shifts staffed at below safe levels in August and the Solent station was understaffed by 83.3 per cent in June.

Last summer the Thames station was the worst affected with 88.7 per cent of shifts understaffed.

Last night Dennis O’Connor, national co-ordinator for the campaign group Coastguard SOS, accused the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of losing control of the service.

“It is unquestionable that the latest understaffing figures prove the service is in a deepening crisis and safety around the UK coastline is being compromised,” he said.

European economics

The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner continues his series on European finances.

 Last week, we began a new series analysing how France has suffered as a result of the reckless economic strategies pursued by François Hollande’s socialist government – and how Ed Miliband could repeat the same mistakes in Britain. Now, we meet small business owners in Toulouse who are crippled by payroll taxes that stifle growth and still fail to pay for the lavish benefits system.

‘I’ve had enough,” says Charline Petit, the young co-owner of the bagel café on Place St-Aubin in central Toulouse. “I’ve been at this for three years, but I haven’t been able to pay myself since January. I can’t carry on like this, so I’m closing down.

“Everything is taxed. You can’t move without being taxed. Even when you are not making any money, you are taxed. I had to lie about my income to rent an apartment. So then the tax authorities said I had not been declaring enough. I was taxed again. If I stopped working, I would get all kinds of benefits, but as a business person, I get nothing. You are better off unemployed.”

UKIP

In another Express exclusive, Douglas Carswell has spoken about other MPs who, he claims, are ready to join UKIP.

DOUGLAS Carswell last night warned of further defections and said his “door is always open” to ex-colleagues who may be “struggling with the same dilemmas” he did before becoming Ukip’s first MP.

In his first interview since being sworn in on Monday, the ex-Tory MP encouraged others to join him, claiming there is only one party that can hold politicians to account.

“During my first week as a Ukip MP, I stood up in Parliament from the opposition benches and asked a question to the Prime Minister,” he said.

“I very deliberately wanted to show that there is an alternative and if you vote Ukip, you get Ukip and Ukip will hold the Government directly to account.

“For the first time as an MP I looked David Cameron in the eye across the aisle and put direct questions to him and forced him to give direct answers.

“If you want politicians to be held to account in that way there is only one party to support.”

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