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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More