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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs