Via FrontPageAfrica, a long opinion piece by Liberian Rodney D. Sieh, writing from Nigeria: Letter From Lagos: Wish Liberia Had Done This Much to Curb Ebola. Excerpt:
I spoke to Sawyer via phone some three weeks ago to express my sympathy upon hearing of his sister’s death. He had explained to me that the sister’s husband had fled after her death and that he had gone in search of him, in hopes of bringing husband to test for Ebola.
I even spoke to him the night before he died – and he sounded fine, tried calling back later but the phone rang endlessly. By 6am I received a call from a senior government official with whom I had discussed the situation the night before, that Sawyer had expired, even though the conclusive test was still due. It was announced shortly after his death that he died of Ebola.
Local media reported here Monday that Sawyer’s body was cremated a few days ago.
What I forgot to ask Patrick then, was whether he had made contact with his sister? Whether he himself had been tested?
More importantly, I keep wondering how much it would have taken health authorities in Liberia to quarantine Sawyer and all those he came in contact with before his death: The usual crew with whom he ran regularly with on Saturday mornings at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex; His immediate family and most importantly, those with whom he worked at the Ministry of Finance?
I would like to think that the answer to all the above were all in the affirmative, that authorities took precaution by doing all those things, but having seen and reported stories about suspected-Ebola patients carried on the backs of friends and relatives who just dropped them off at the Cholera Unit and went back in their communities without being tested or quarantined, hope remains slim and skepticism at an all time high.
The sad reality is, all Liberians are guilty of overlooking a deadly virus and taking it for granted.
We’re talking about a country where citizens have attacked an Emergency Room at the country’s largest hospital demanding the body of a relative who had just been diagnosed with Ebola, a country where a nurse was stabbed on her way to work in her nursing uniform, a country where some relatives are determined to hold regular funeral for relatives who have died from Ebola even though they have been told that it is dangerous, a country where some medical facilities are still without protective gears.
Mind you, people have contracted the virus after coming in contact with dead and living chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, porcupines and humans.
More importantly, doctors and nurses in the line of fire are dying in the droves even as the World Health Organization have declared that testing blood specimens for the disease presents “an extreme risk”, and must be done only under the strictest containment conditions.
Even those foreign doctors on the front line at the only facility capable of dealing with the outbreak, the Samaritan Purse at ELWA are putting their lives at risk.
Despite the danger, these Samaritan Purse doctors continue to press on, against dissent from ELWA community residents who have resisted the doctors’ attempt to open more centers to cater to more suspected cases out of fear that the disease will spread to them. As a result, the good Samaritans are no longer taking new cases. So much for trying to do good to a nation that does everything to show their ignorance, intolerance and naivety.