Police Clashes Escalate in Liberia as Ebola Victims Lay Dead in Homes, Streets for Days
The deadly Ebola epidemic that has stricken Western Africa is triggering major civil unrest in Liberia, Monrovia, where individuals have taken to forming roadblocks and preventing government vehicles from freely moving through the city in an attempt to bring attention to the abandoned bodies all over the city.
Agence France-Presse reports that vehicles were mostly unable to traffic through the city as citizens blocked the roads to bring attention to the dead there. "No cars are allowed to pass on this road until the government can come and get the bodies that have been lying in the houses for four days now," said protester Kamara Fofana, organizing a protest in a suburb of the capital.
Monrovia and its surroundings are laden with dead bodies, reports say--individuals who died of Ebola in their homes or lay openly on the street. Citizens refuse to touch the dead bodies, as the government has warned against doing so for fear that coming into contact with bodily fluids can spread Ebola easily. Some have been laying in the position in which they died on streets for up to four days.
The government has indeed told Liberians not to come into contact with the bodies of those who died of Ebola or are currently experiencing the trademark symptoms of the disease: heavy bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. It has also decreed that all victims of Ebola must be cremated, not buried, for fear of contamination.
Burial has also become more difficult, as residents near land chosen for such a use have attacked aid workers and protested the use of their land for storage of Ebola-contaminated bodies. In one chosen area, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, "An angry crowd gathered, shouting at health workers dressed in white protective suits who sought to appease them by handing out Ebola information flyers." The group shouted, "You will have to kill us first." Reuters has published video of the incident.
At least 729 people are believed to have died from the Ebola virus since the outbreak first erupted in March in the nation of Guinea, and more than 1,000 are believed to have been infected with the virus. Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have experienced the majority of cases, with two other countries currently housing individuals infected with the virus: the United States, where Christian aid doctor Kent Brantley is currently undergoing treatment for the disease after contracting it in Liberia, and Nigeria, where a Liberian government official died after landing in the country from Monrovia. Nigeria confirmed on Monday a second individual carrying the Ebola virus--the doctor who treated the man who initially brought the disease into the country.