Liberians demand that govt pick up Ebola bodies

2014-08-09 23:01
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Monrovia - Riot police raced to quell a demonstration blocking Liberia's busiest highway Saturday as an angry crowd protested the government's delays in collecting the bodies of Ebola victims.

In Guinea, where the deadly Ebola outbreak emerged in March, health officials announced on Saturday that the country was closing its land borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone - two of the countries where the killer virus has now spread and where deaths are mounting.

The World Health Organisation declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency on Friday. The growing unease in Liberia, where nearly 300 people have died from the gruesome disease, raises the spectre of social unrest.

Several bodies had been lying by the roadside for two days in the central town of Weala, 75km from the capital of Monrovia, and no government agency had picked them up, residents said.

The Ebola virus spreads through the bodily fluids of its victims and many in West Africa have fallen ill after touching or handling corpses. Liberia's government has ordered that all Ebola victims be cremated amid community opposition to neighbourhood burials for fear of further contamination.

Information Minister Lewis Brown sounded a warning on state radio on Saturday.

"Security people are on their way to put things under control," Brown said, directing his comments to protesters. "We don't want people taking the law into their own hands."

The latest Ebola outbreak is the largest ever recorded for the disease and so far has killed at least 961 people, according to figures released Friday by the UN health agency. This outbreak emerged in Guinea and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

The situation is particularly dire in Liberia, where the Doctors Without Borders charity group has described the conditions as "catastrophic".

"There are reports of dead bodies lying in streets and houses," said the group's emergency co-ordinator in Liberia, Lindis Hurum.

At least 40 health workers in Liberia have contracted Ebola in recent weeks and most of the city's hospitals are closed, Hurum said.

On Saturday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was meeting with health workers at City Hall in Monrovia.

"The president wants to express the collective gratitude of the entire nation to our health care workers who have continued to make tremendous sacrifices for this country and people," said Brown.

State radio broadcaster Smith Toby called health workers "front-line soldiers" leading the fight against Ebola.

Liberia has launched "Operation White Shield" under which soldiers are deployed in different locations and at checkpoints outside the capital to discourage residents' movements, part of Sirleaf's emergency measures to better fight the disease.

Health workers were stationed next to soldiers at checkpoints Saturday, taking the temperatures of commuters. People with temperatures above normal were blocked from leaving.

Also Saturday, a Catholic humanitarian group based in Spain said a Congolese nun working in Liberia had died of Ebola.

The San Juan de Dios hospital order announced that Sister Chantal Pascaline died "from Ebola in the Hospital San Jose de Monrovia, despite the care she received from a volunteer nurse".

Pascaline belonged to the same order as a Spanish missionary priest and nun evacuated to Madrid by jet this week. Both are in stable condition in a Madrid hospital, officials say.

Read more on:    who  |  doctors without borders  |  ellen johnson sirleaf  |  liberia  |  ebola

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.