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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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