26 Oct 2014

Ebola: hysteria, nursing, reporting and courage

An American nurse flies home to the US from treating Ebola patients in west Africa and, in her own words, is subjected to treatment akin to that meted out to highly dangerous criminals. At one point Kaci Hickox was subjected to an eight-car police convoy moving with sirens blaring. And when American cop car sirens wail, boy, do they wail.

In many ways Ms Hickox’s ordeal, which understandably resulted in a heightening of her temperature (she was later revealed not to have any sign of Ebola), takes to new depths the weird American capacity for mass paranoia that has resulted so often in so many questionable calls on foreign policy. This vast country can seem like is has had a perennial fear that dark forces are coming to get them.


Now it is Ebola, and poor Mr Obama has had his own African roots visited upon him by right-wing politicians who look for any stick with which to beat him ahead of the approaching US electoral season. Despite it all, Obama has bravely continued his leadership in responding to the Ebola disaster.

Which brings me to our own Tom Clarke, our Science Editor who, together with his cameraman John Templeton, have spent the last week in Sierra Leone reporting the suffering of that country at the hands of this so frequently fatal virus. There were many who did not want to join Tom on his endeavour. He himself used his scientific understanding to assess and understand the risks.

Even for him, his assignment has been a trial and at times a very stressful ordeal on many levels which he has never allowed to interfere with his brilliant reportage.

So this time Snowblog simply thanks him and pays respect to Kaci Hickox and so many others including the very many British nurses, doctors, aid workers and military who are on the ground battling this epidemic. Tribute too to the handful of the journalists who are trying to report — including Sky’s indomitable Alex Crawford, in a way that will hopefully begin to quell the kind of hysteria to which Kaci Hickox was subjected.

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