The BBC is reporting this morning that nine members of a team trying to raise awareness of Ebola have been murdered in Guinea. Some of the bodies were dumped in a septic tank on school grounds in the village of Nzerekore.
From the BBC:
The team disappeared after being pelted with stones by residents when they arrived in the village of Wome – in southern Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak was first recorded.
A journalist who managed to escape told reporters that she could hear villagers looking for them while she was hiding.
A government delegation, led by the health minister, had been dispatched to the region but they were unable to reach the village by road because a main bridge had been blocked.
‘Killed in cold blood’
On Thursday night, government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said the victims had been “killed in cold blood by the villagers”.
The bodies showed signs of being attacked with machetes and clubs, officials say.
Seven bodies were found in the septic tank and two more in the bush.
Six people have been arrested and the village is now reportedly deserted.
The motive for the killings has not been confirmed, but the BBC’s Makeme Bamba in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, says many villagers accuse the health workers of spreading the disease.
Others still do not believe that the disease exists.
Last month, riots erupted in Nzerekore, 50 km (30 miles) from Wome, after rumours that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating people. (Read more)
The World Health Organization who is reporting an increase of 700 cases in less than a week, and a doubling of new cases every two to three weeks (source) is still not recommending a curtailment of travel to the affected areas.
It’s proving difficult enough to get people to work with the disease in West Africa, and the killing of medical teams and journalists associated with those teams will make it far more difficult to get assistance out to affected areas.
The mathematics of this epidemic is becoming more frightening with each day that passes. With known cases now numbering 5,357 and the known death toll standing at 2,630 (source) the realization that Ebola will most likely spread out of Africa is percolating through to governments around the world.
The CDC has sent an alert out to hospitals across the United States as Daisy Luther reports here. The UK and health authorities across Europe are also updating the preparedness plans they have in place for dealing with the disease.
Sadly none of this may be enough. An uncontrolled outbreak could lead to thousands of patients all requiring isolation at the same time, and the number of beds available is unlikely to match the numbers of patients needing them.
Unless travel bans are imposed that prevent people leaving Ebola areas, there’s no doubt in my mind that infected people will be walking the streets of London and New York and dozens of other cities within a few months.
Photo credit: AFP
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