Via allAfrica.com, a blog post by Cokie van der Velde, an MSF sanitation specialist: Ebola - My Last Day in the Isolation Zone. Excerpt:
It’s my last day, so I’m going to the treatment unit to say goodbye to the staff and to lend a hand, as I know they will be short-staffed and the workload is increasing. In the past week, some local staff have resigned or just not turned up for work. I can’t blame them - they’re scared.
Arrive at the treatment centre. Local staff are wandering around. Hear the predictable news of many deaths inside. Get dressed up in my protective clothing with Sara, an MSF doctor who has a capacity for work and good humour in equal measures. I really enjoy working with her and am glad to be spending my last day in her company.
Three hygienists are joining us to move the bodies. We label the body bags before entering. I like to double-bag bodies but just now there aren’t enough bags to go round.
Enter the zone for suspected cases, after donning the protective gear and checking that not a millimetre of skin is showing. We have a strict one-way system - lower risk to higher risk. Start by emptying the buckets of faeces and vomit and saying cheerful good mornings to the patients. I spray chlorine solution as I go - we touch nothing without spraying first, even though we wear three pairs of gloves.
One woman has had diarrhoea and was too weak to walk - she’s been lying in it all night and her thrashings have spread it over the floor. Throw buckets of chlorine and clean the mess.
Sara does a round of the patients, gently caring for each in turn. The three hygienists look either lost or scared - difficult to tell when you can only see people’s eyes.
The final two bodies defeat us and we move to the decontamination area
Enter the zone for confirmed cases. This section should house 10 patients, but in fact has 14. Some women who had been in the extension room next door have moved themselves into the corridor, one sleeping on the ground. I wonder why they left their beds to come in here.
In here the patients are much more sick, and I empty buckets and clean floors, helping patients too weak to hold water bottles, and taking bags of rubbish to our pit for burning.
I’m getting hot. It’s very humid and my tiredness has made the length of time I can stay in the protective gear shorter.