A black woman has been attacked and told to “get off the bus” on public mass-transit in Rome on Monday, as fellow travellers accused her of having Ebola and began to beat her.
The woman, a 26 year-old Guinean was travelling at lunch-time when a family group of fellow passengers attacked her. TheLocal.it reports a teenager accused Fataomata Sompare of being infected, at which point the other members of the teenager’s family began beating her. She said: “They told me that I had Ebola and that I had to get off the bus”.
She was chased off the bus, but a group of people waiting at a bus-stop intervened and the police were called. She was later admitted to hospital for bruising.
It is not known whether Sompare was showing any signs of Ebola infection at the time of the attack, which may include tremors, vomiting, and bleeding from the eyes, but her partner insisted the violence was purely racially motivated. He said she was attacked “only because she’s black”, and that “[She is] a victim of racism which is now rampant in this city”.
Since its initial outbreak in March of this year, the Ebola virus has killed over 4,500 and infected nearly 10,000 in West African nations Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sompare’s home country Guinea. This event has distinguished itself from previous outbreaks going back to 1976 when it was first detected, in killing more people more quickly than ever before.
It is this unusual speed with which the virus has spread that has concerned many Western governments, some of whom have deployed significant forces of military personnel, medics and equipment, and pledged large amounts of money to affected nations. The aid package presently being negotiated by the European Union to help combat the virus could amount to one billion Euros, and is being largely funded by the United Kingdom and Germany.
The latest estimates by the World Health Organisation paint a bleak picture for West Africa, which may see the virus spread over borders to near neighbours and distant nations amid the possible 10,000 new cases a week expected by Christmas.