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Sierra Leone Trains New Ebola Burial Team

  • Peter Clottey

Health workers bury the body of a suspected Ebola victim at a cemetery in Freetown, Dec. 21, 2014.

Health workers bury the body of a suspected Ebola victim at a cemetery in Freetown, Dec. 21, 2014.

A spokesman for Sierra Leone’s government says a newly trained burial team will soon be deployed to those places most affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Abdulai Bayraytay said, “They are ready to go into the field. In fact, …we have given the current burial team a day off per week [with pay] so [they will] not be exhausted…”

Members of the new burial team, Bayraytay said, have been trained as hygienists to educate citizens about how the disease is spread.

His comments come after reports suggesting that long-serving team members are exhausted.

Bayraytay said new teams are being trained by the government’s health ministry in collaboration with international partners including the International Organization for Migration.

“[They] have been training routine teams for the western area in particular …and also in southeast and north of the country. We want to maintain that status because the burial team has been doing tremendous work -- [which] is why we [group] them in numbers of 12 each and assign them two vehicles,” said Bayraytay.

In an effort to stop the spread of Ebola, the government has banned public gatherings during the Christmas holidays. He denied the move undermines the constitution, which guarantees religious freedom.

Bayraytay said the administration is pleased with the public’s acceptance of the ban.

“[The government] is working with the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone so that we make sure that we are on the same frequency. I must say since the president proclaimed the western area surge [of anti-Ebola] measures ….we expect everybody after the [Christmas] church service to [go] home and use the day for reflection,” said Bayraytay.

He said officials expect citizens to return home by 5pm [local time] from all other activities “as a way of welcoming the New Year.”