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Debate: Is the threat of Ebola overhyped in Britain?

YES

Firstly, it should be stated that there is no doubt that Ebola is real. I am sure we can all recall the outbreak of SARS, mad cow disease and swine flu.

These health risks too, were all real, but mainstream media put forth a great effort into frightening the public, by shaping and exaggerating stories to paint a masterpiece of a monumental threat to western civilization.

For instance, one major news outlet’s title from 2003: ‘SARS could be biggest disease threat since AIDS’ with one from last week: ‘Ebola victims in African village ‘rise from the dead’. It would appear that the media, in regards to its use of sensationalism, does not know innovation.

To add, it should come as no surprise. After all, news is only news if it sells. And what could be more marketable than the implication of zombies?

With titles as ridiculous as these ones, it is only comprehensible that the majority of people have entered a moral panic.

Even less extreme headings from the BBC like: ‘Why Ebola is so dangerous’ and ‘Ebola crisis: Vaccine too late for outbreak’, reek of doom. The media in vivid, visual terms is like an evil cheerleader, animating Ebola.

Just on record, 4,500 deaths have been caused by the virus. However, 90% of these casualties, if not more have occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon, some of the most poverty stricken countries, that do not have equipped facilities nor a sufficient economy to combat the Ebola virus, nor any others in that case.

If anything, vast attention should be given and hyperboles utilised by the media to project that only $100,000(£62,000) has been funded so far by outer nations to aid these countries.

We should pay less attention to the media, who do not necessarily know all, but tells all, and perhaps listen to the NHS, for example, that stated: ‘[…] for people living in countries outside Africa, it continues to be a very low threat’.

According to one recent news story there is a 50% chance that Ebola could reach Britain by October 24th, which does not give us much time. I suggest you urgently start to make your own truth and either continue on with your privileged lives or run for the hills.

Jemada Cicely


NO

The threat of Ebola is not overhyped by the media by any means. In the midst of the current international disaster, information about the virus should be easily accessible.

Thousands of untimely deaths in affected West African countries should give the media enough drive to provide more coverage about its threat to the UK and beyond. There needs to be more hype.

Although discovered in 1976, the existence of Ebola has been relatively unknown in the general population until the major outbreak this year. There has been ambiguous reports in the media on how it can be spread from person to person.

The mode of transmission as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) involves having direct contact, via broken skin, with any bodily fluid containing the virus or with any material contaminated by the virus.

Other reports have suggested that the virus could have the potential to be airborne, which is strikingly worrying. When contracted in humans, the virus can cause disturbing symptoms that are as bad as internal and external bleeding.

I feel that it is imperative that everyone is made aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus so that a life-threatening outbreak can be prevented.

It was the misunderstandings and lack of awareness of the general public that led to the unfortunate spread of HIV/AIDS in the US and UK during the 80s and 90s. Now, there are plenty people living with the HIV virus and facing terrible stigmatisation.

Do we want the same thing to happen with the Ebola virus? When will we stop being so naïve? More research needs to be done to create vaccines and cures so that Ebola can be controlled and decreased in West Africa.

Tackling the epidemic at the source will ultimately lower UK threat levels. The media and government has a duty to inform everyone true information about the obvious threat and ways to move forward.

Desiree Fyle

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