No sooner had I posted the complaint just below than this July 13 Reuters report turned up on my Twitter feed: As Ebola stalks West Africa, medics fight mistrust, hostility. Excerpt:
Governments and health agencies trying to contain the world's deadliest ever Ebola epidemic in West Africa fear the contagion could be worse than reported because suspicious locals are chasing away health workers and shunning treatment.
From Guinea, where the four-month-old outbreak claimed the first of more than 500 lives, to Sierra Leone, scores of patients are hiding away, believing hospitalization is a "death sentence".
In Guinea's southeastern Forest Region some terrified villagers are shutting off their communities to medical workers, even blocking roads and downing bridges.
Over the border in Liberia's Lofa County, health workers trying to screen two communities for the deadly disease were chased off by locals armed with cutlasses, knives, and stones, according to an internal U.N. report seen by Reuters.
In eastern Sierra Leone, police had to fire tear gas to stop relatives trying to recover bodies of Ebola victims for family burial - a serious contagion risk - amid popular suspicions the cadavers might be used for experiments or macabre rituals.
"We are seeing a lot of mistrust, intimidation and hostility from part of the population," Marc Poncin, emergency coordinator for medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Guinea, told Reuters.
The MSF treatment center at Gueckedou, 650 kilometers (400 miles) southeast of Conakry, was monitoring only one suspected case. Two weeks ago it had been treating around 25 Ebola patients.
But this was not, Poncin warned, because the disease was waning, but because he believed "dozens" of suspected cases were hiding out from medical teams in the surrounding forest region.
"What we are now seeing are villages closing themselves off, not allowing us to enter, sick people hidden in the community. They don't come and seek healthcare any more," he said.
This was increasing the risk of further propagation, adding to the challenge for medical authorities of an unprecedented epidemic spread across three nations that threatens one of the poorest regions of the world. Weak local health systems and porous national borders were magnifying the infection risk.