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All deaths in West Africa being treated like Ebola as bodies are left for days pending test results


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(NaturalNews) The high degree to which the West African Ebola outbreak is impacting local communities throughout Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and now other surrounding nations is simultaneously bringing to a halt the economies of many of these areas. With nearly every ill person now a suspect when it comes to the disease, the trading of goods and services is dwindling as fear and panic sweep the region.

Bodies are also being laid to waste as authorities wait for test results, assuming out of precaution that every death is the result of Ebola. Families of the dead are increasingly being barred from holding traditional funerals, and individuals who require standard medical care are having to travel outside their borders to alternative clinics, where they won't be ostracized and assumed to have Ebola.

But the worst consequence of all the panic is the bodies that are piling up in the streets and in people's homes, as authorities prohibit normal burials until a cause of death is confirmed. When a person dies in one of the affected zones, the District Health Management Team, or DHMT, has to come out and gather information, take samples and make an assessment before any further action can be taken.

If the body is deemed not to have been infected with Ebola, DHMT gives the family the green light to have it buried. If it tests positive, DHMT has to come and remove the body, sanitizing the room it was in and disinfecting the rest of the house. This process can take days, especially as more people die, which is spurring many locals to take action against the government.

Not only are people upset at the amount of time it takes for burial teams to collect the bodies, but in some cases they are resistant to the process altogether because it violates their normal rituals for burying the deceased. Reports indicate that, in some areas, families are actually running the burial teams out of town, creating more panic and civil unrest.

"The perceived deprivation among the populace from offering a befitting burial for their loved ones is leading to fear, panic and resistance to such measures," wrote Sierra Express Media contributor Alhassan Fouard Kanu. "There are occasions where burial teams have been chased away as seen recently in BlackHall Road, Freetown, Shelmingo in Bo and Masongbo in Bombali district."

Sierra Leone's new health minister working to improve body collection, burial protocols

In response to all this, Dr. A.B. Fofanah, Sierra Leone's newly appointed Minister of Health and Sanitation, is now working with all the relevant local authorities to increase the number of burial teams and ensure that they handle the bodies properly and with due respect. Dr. Fofanah is also boosting measures to improve the turnaround time for lab tests, reducing them from several days to just a few hours.

If the governments of these areas are unable to follow through with such intentions, some are calling on the privatization of these and other tasks to ensure that Ebola doesn't spread any further, that bodies are handled prudently and with appropriate care and that civil unrest doesn't explode to unmanageable proportions.

"Should there be unnecessary bottlenecks within government institutions to the handling of burials; the author recommends that the task be privatized; where competent entities are given the chance to effectively [manage] burials," added Kanu. "This is to prevent the government from the embarrassment of having bodies decomposing in homes or littering the streets; as this has the potential of instigating riots in communities."

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