News / Health

Senegal Confirms First Ebola Case; Riots Reported in So. Guinea City

Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to carry an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014.
Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to carry an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014.
VOA News

Fears of Ebola spread deeper through West Africa Friday, as Senegal announced its first case and the World Health Organization shuttered its laboratory in Sierra Leone after a healthcare worker became infected with the highly contagious virus.

In Guinea, meanwhile, a Red Cross official said riots broke out in the country’s second largest city over rumors that health workers had infected people with the virus.

The World Health Organization has warned that the outbreak was escalating, with 40 percent of the total number of cases occurring in the past 21 days. The disease could eventually infect 20,000 people across the region, the agency said.

The case announced Friday by Senegal’s health minister makes that country the fifth in the region to be hit by the virus, which has killed more than 1,500 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has also recorded 15 cases and six deaths since it was first reported last month.

Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 updateEbola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update
x
Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update
Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, warned that the outbreak could spread beyond West Africa.

"If we don't stop it here, we're going to be dealing with it for years around the world. But we can still stop it," said Dr. Tom Frieden, during a trip to Liberia on Thursday.

Senegalese Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters that the infected person was a Guinean university student who sought treatment at a hospital in Senegal's capital, Dakar, this week.

The man said he had contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, and that he subsequently tested positive for the virus, she said.

Experts have said a shortage of protective equipment is one of the factors contributing to the epidemic.  A Senegalese epidemiologist was flown to Germany earlier this week after contracting the virus from a testing lab in the Sierra Leonean town of Kailahun. 

“We’re worried about (healthcare workers’) welfare and health,” WHO spokeswoman Joy Rivica said about the shuttered lab. “We brought them to Freetown and we have a team ready to be deployed to Kailahun, anytime, as soon as we find out how our colleague got infected, the reasons for that.  And as soon as it’s ready and that’s possibly next week, WHO will resume full operation in Kailahun.”

In Freetown, residents said fear was growing.

 “Very scared, our people are dying, doctors and nurses are dying,” taxi driver Morrison Vandy said.

A health worker, wearing a protective suit, disinfects a house during an Ebola prevention drill at the port in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 29, 2014.A health worker, wearing a protective suit, disinfects a house during an Ebola prevention drill at the port in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 29, 2014.
x
A health worker, wearing a protective suit, disinfects a house during an Ebola prevention drill at the port in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 29, 2014.
A health worker, wearing a protective suit, disinfects a house during an Ebola prevention drill at the port in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 29, 2014.

Rioting in Guinea

In the southern Guinean city of Nzerekore, a crowd of young men, some armed with clubs and pistols, set up barricades Thursday and threatened to attack the hospital, said Youssouf Traore, president of the Guinean Red Cross. Security forces eventually restored order but not before gunshots were fired by rioters and several people were injured.

“A rumor, which was totally false, spread that we had sprayed the market in order to transmit the virus to locals,” Traore said. “People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to intervene.”

A government report released Tuesday showed there were 12 suspected, probable and confirmed cases in Nzerekore. 

The disease was first reported in southeastern Guinea in March; more than 400 people have died in that country alone, although the rate of infection is reported to be slower than in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Guinea government has insisted it has controlled the epidemic but has expressed concern over new cases in the southern regions, which it blames on victims spilling over from neighboring countries.

Nigerians Resist Clinics

In Nigeria, meanwhile, some have pushed back against government plans to build isolation units in their neighborhoods, even saying they would sooner burn Ebola centers down than allow them to operate.  

In the northern city of Kaduna, hundreds of people on Wednesday protested plans to convert sections of a local clinic into an Ebola treatment center.  Many carried signs that said: "No Ebola in our hospital."

“They are kicking against it, that it should not be situated here.  Not that government should not do what it is supposed to do.  But situating it here is what they are against," said Danjuma Musa, a religious leader in Down Quarters, where the hospital is located.

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said Thursday the government should prepare for the possibility of a widespread outbreak. He said “irrational fears” were driving protesters’ opposition to isolation centers.  

“Even family members are not even permitted. You’re a man? Your wife is not even permitted. You’re a woman? Your husband, your children, they are not even permitted,” Chukwu said. “So I don’t know how people now think they will get Ebola because we are treating.  In any case, people might as well ask all hospitals be removed from their cities.”

Some residents that attended the protest Wednesday said they feared an Ebola center could spark public outrage and more violence in the state, which has been terrorized by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram in recent years.

“When you look at the number of people that came out yesterday protesting, at least that can trigger something else in the state,” said Ibrahim Shehu, who chairs the clinic’s board. “But thank God, we did things peacefully.” 

FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.
x
FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.
FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.

​Other residents say Nigerians are so afraid of Ebola in general, that even if the isolation unit has no patients, its presence will keep people out of the neighborhood, killing their businesses.  

Abdullahi Mohammed Barnawa, who sells wood at a Kaduna market near the clinic, wrongly believed Ebola was airborne, when in fact it spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

“When there is something dangerous nobody will patronize you.  People will run away from you,” Barnawa said.

Officials in Nigeria and elsewhere have tried to dispel rumors with TV ads, radio announcements and educational flyers, warning that false information can sometimes be as deadly as Ebola.

VOA’s Nina deVries in Freetown, Liberia, Heather Murdock in Abuja, Nigeria, Ibrahima Yakubu in Kaduna, Nigeria contributed to this report.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid