Ex-minister loses nine family members to Ebola

2014-08-06 07:40

Freetown - A former government minister in Sierra Leone said on Tuesday that he has lost nine members of his family to the Ebola epidemic raging in west Africa.

Lansana Nyallah told state television the dead included his brothers and sisters in the eastern village of Daru, at the epicentre of the outbreak.

"To those who still believe that Ebola does not exist, please take heed," the former youth and education minister told the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.

Ebola has claimed 273 lives in Sierra Leone. Overall almost 900 people have been killed by the pathogen, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids, since this worst-ever outbreak began at the start of the year.

"Nine members of my family including my brothers and sisters are now dead from the virus," said Nyallah, who was replaced in a cabinet reshuffle last year after several years in President Ernest Bai Koroma's government.

"One of them was an imam who was also a radio journalist working for a community radio station in Daru," he said. "Our house is now empty as no one lives there."

Described as a "molecular shark" in medical literature, Ebola causes extreme fever before breaking down its victims' internal organs, which bleed out through the body in the most severe cases.

Myths surrounding the virus have proved an obstacle to treatment and prevention in west Africa.

Many indigenous people living in the forested border areas that straddle Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea believe the virus was introduced deliberately by outsiders, or is a fictional invention by the West, designed to subjugate them.

In Guinea, medical experts have been attacked by angry mobs, while in Sierra Leone and Liberia traditional communities have ignored warnings not to touch the bodies of the dead during funeral rituals.

"The confusion about Ebola which created the resistance from some people was due to the earlier messages which were both confusing and unreliable," Nyallah told the station.

"We were told that Ebola had no cure but were not told about the chances of survival if one reports early. We have now learnt more about the disease, especially about the body-to-body contact which increases transmission," he added.

Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency last week, quarantining Ebola-hit areas and cancelling foreign trips by ministers.

The country observed a "stay at home day" on Monday as the government recalibrated its response to the outbreak.

In Kenema, a diamond mining town at the epicentre of the outbreak, 320km east of the capital Freetown, shops closed, miners abandoned their pits and the roads were empty of traffic.

"There is no panic and the area is calm. The situation is getting a bit better and there is greater awareness than before," said Foday Sajuma, the director of a community radio station in the nearby town of Kailahun.

"People are reporting cases of victims and they are doing so voluntarily."

  • Brett Glass - 2014-08-06 08:08

    There may be truth to the suspicion of westerners experimenting with their biological warfare in Africa. Eish! White folks are dangerous. How can we trust them when they brought beads, salt and sugar in on bag and guns in the trunk

      Brett Glass - 2014-08-06 09:07

      @Bull why you being so crude and profane? Did whites not almost wipe out the indeginous Indian population in South America with their diseases? The plague was due to lack of hygene in Europe, Syphilis, gay stuff & Aids? When we tell the truth we are insulted but nothing can change that. Biological warfare is the most subverted. In Zimbabwe they aparently flew over water reservoirs and sprayed cholera to punish blacks for taking back their land.

      Brett Glass - 2014-08-06 10:34

      In Europe (Place where most global epidemics started) Is it not true that all kinds of animals once roamed the land? From snakes, pigs, rodents & lions? What happened to them & the forests? You cut all the trees and ate all your animals. When people were hungry because your king was keeping all the food, you first started peasant dishes like, blood pudding, pigs genitals, crows and rodents. The plague started and cancer and so, you went in search of other sources of food and resources. In the process you spread diseases.

  • Tshepo Dala Cruz - 2014-08-06 08:38

    eyoo end of the world Ebola , heavy hails , earthquake

  • Lehlohonolo Monareng - 2014-08-06 08:44

    I feel pity for the family my their soul rest in peace I wish it heapens to Zumas family but their day is coming

  • Carl Wild - 2014-08-06 08:52

    Why can't Zuma het the ebola virus

      Witness Mayezana - 2014-08-06 11:04

      im filing very waried becouse people they dont want to accept that the bible worn us about unhiled diases ,they bizy pointing the fingers to government , i jast want to say the people must reten to GOD and GOD will heal people and their world ! .

  • SunshinyDay - 2014-08-06 09:39

    Poor man, how difficult that must be to see so many family members suffer at once.

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