Originally published September 25 2014
Ebola deaths outpace burial rates as bodies stack up in Sierra Leone
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) Nearly 6 million bewildered Sierra Leoneans opened up their doors and walked outside for the first time in three days, coming out of a 72-hour stupor. The entire country was ordered into a lockdown last week, a lockdown attempting to contain the Ebola outbreak. As the sun hit their faces, it didn't take long for the residents to find an additional 200 dead bodies and a plethora of new Ebola cases on the city streets. Even during the lock down, the death count jumped.
So many bodies have accumulated in such a short amount of time that officials can't even keep up with burying the bodies. As the Sierra Leone lockdown ended, health officials and volunteers desperately continued with the endless burials, as dead bodies piled up.
"We have an overflow of bodies which we still need to bury but this has been an everyday occurrence since the Ebola outbreak... Now at least we have about 150 new cases," said Steven Gaojia, head of the country's emergency operation center. After the lockdown, the chief medical officer in Sierra Leone reported that 70 more bodies had been discovered in Freetown, the country's capital.
Sierra Leoneans' mistrust of government grows as 72-hour lockdown endsNearly 30,000 volunteers, who were reportedly giving out soap during door-to-door house visits, were the only ones exempt from the lockdown. Their efforts failed for the most part, as villagers looked on, ignoring volunteers' shoddy advice and lack of sanitation aid.
The only thing the lockdown did was destroy all trust that the people had in their government. Several villagers ignored the government lockdown, frolicking in the streets even after police rode through town, warning them to go inside. Abruptly sending volunteers to millions of homes in three days turned out to be a failed experiment, but President Ernest Bai Koroma praised the decision at a news conference in the country's capital: "We have to be proud of ourselves. The stay-at-home has given some confidence to the health system as people out of their own volition reported cases of dead people and the sick."
He declared, "We should now build on our successes to inspire us to put Ebola behind us."
But how can the country move past Ebola if the deaths continue to outpace burial rates?
According to Information Minister Lewis Brown, there's no space whatsoever for the dead or the dying. "Patients are being rejected... because there is no space. So the government is trying its best to finish the 1,000 beds so we can accommodate all the patients."
Quarantine measures are apparently failing too, contributing to the death toll. The World Health Organization is concerned about quarantine hotspots not being "proportionate and evidence-based." WHO continues to call on health officials to provide adequate food, water and information to these quarantine zones so they can stop looking like death camps that are only adding to the death total.
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