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African press review 28 August 2014

Liberia should be more careful with so-called Ebola cures, the virus may have united Nigeria and South Africa's schools go empty as long as roads go unpaved.


In Liberia New Dawn reports that crime rates have rocketed in the capital since President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed a national curfew a week ago. The paper says hardened criminals are taking advantage of deserted streets between 9pm and 6am to burst into shops and terrorise people in their homes.

The daily warns that security enforcing the curfew is shoddy at best. According to residents interviewed by the paper, armed robbers are often dressed in police uniforms. Actual security forces are slow to respond, if they respond at all.

New Dawn thinks the curfew is a necessary step in fighting the Ebola outbreak but says citizens can't be sitting ducks - the government has to make sure they are safe sitting at home after dark.

Front Page Africa reports on the ups and downs of using experimental drugs to treat the Ebola virus. When Liberia first received Zmapp, a US experimental drug, hopes were high that it would solve the crisis. But according to Front Page, seven people so far have used the medication and two have died despite treatment, one of them a medic in Monrovia who died over the weekend.

The daily reports that only a dozen or so doses of the drug have been made. Several other untested vaccines have been offered to Liberia from abroad. But the government remains elusive in answering questions about these treatments. Front Page says Japan, for instance, is sending a drug to Monrovia this week but Health Minister Walter T Gwenigale has refused to comment.

The paper also calls for caution - many different groups are claiming to have antidotes to the virus. One case point is Nano, a homegrown trial drug recently introduced as a possible cure. Front Page Africa has discovered that the drug is nothing more than a pesticide recently rejected by health authorities in Nigeria.

So the paper thinks trial medication is a good option, but one to use with caution. People should invest their hope in regular medical care, which can also help patients battle the virus, it says, it's more readily available than a few elite serums often flown in from the far corners of the world and kept secret by government.

Moving on to Nigeria, the Punch has an intriguing opinion piece on the man who brought the Ebola virus to the country. Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer has become posthumously famous after leaving Liberia to seek medical aid in Lagos, knowing that he was infected by the virus.

The author of the article, Obayomi Ojo, thinks Sawyer should be awarded a medal ... for bringing the country together through the dreaded virus. According to Ojo, the ruling class swiftly reached across the aisle, shunning partisan politics to fight a single enemy.
The Punch says perhaps a natural calamity is what it takes to shake the country's leadership out of its stupor.

In still in Nigeria, though the country may be suffering from Ebola visitors flocking to Lagos. The Guardian says Lagos is Africa's most expensive city for accommodation for a night. A survey by the Guardian found that hotels in west Africa's business hub are twice as expensive as similar establishments elsewhere.

And, according to the Guardian, the pricey rates are due to high operational costs.
Most hotels have their own generators, dig their own boreholes and instal independent sewage systems. They're essentially stepping in to provide an infrastructure that would normally be ensured by the state.

In South Africa communities have found a new way of getting local authorities to pay attention. According to City Press, a group of villages are keeping their own children from school in a bid for better roads.

The movement affects 50 schools and though Education Minister Blade Nzimande visited the communities in the Northern Cape, City Press says locals were unimpressed. They did not budge on their position and told the minnister they were tired of hearing empty promises. Parents know this means their children might flunk a year in school but it appears that they are bent on one thing and one thing only: tarred roads, within the next few months.

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