In Liberia, traditional funerals and ceremonies have almost come to a halt during this most virulent Ebola outbreak in history. Whole villages have turned to ghost towns, as residents are afraid to leave their homes in the most affected areas of Africa.
These days, in some parts of Liberia, the only burials are by men in full-body protective gear sent by the government to carry out that duty.
However, by some reports, Liberian citizens are at last starting to understand the severity of the outbreak. But the government had to break through distrust of officials, as well as hundreds of years of funerary practices often tied to religion.
Many citizens felt that observing the new demands on how to treat the dead would make them outcasts among their neighbors, but the severity of the outbreak has taken its toll.
When officials first began urging the “safe” burials of Ebola victims, many refused to obey. “When it started, it wasn’t that easy,” Ebola response team member Alpha Tamba told CNN. “It was kind of difficult for communities to disclose death. People preferred driving us away.”
Several towns have been abandoned in the affected area as the virus takes its toll. Other towns are under quarantine.
Sadly, the virus is showing no signs of diminishing; outbreaks continue, especially in western Africa.
Authorities warn that cases of Ebola in western Africa are on the rise, not the wane, with 40 percent of all known cases having been reported in just the last 20 days or so.
There are now over 3,000 known cases of Ebola in Africa. So far, over 1,500 people have reportedly died from the infection, but many more cases have gone unreported.
With the severity of the outbreak, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that Ebola has turned her country into a “grave.” She told CNN, “Our health delivery system is under stress. The international community couldn’t respond quickly.”
“People now don’t see this as a Liberia or West Africa crisis. It could easily become a global crisis,” she added.
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