Ebola: Liberian Woman Commits Suicide In Lagos •Health Minister Cautions Over Fake Ebola Reports

The fear of having the Ebola Virus Disease has led a Liberian woman living in Lagos to commit suicide  by hanging herself in Lagos on Friday.

The woman, identified as Kate, decided to hang herself in the early hours of Friday after falling sick and thinking that what she suffered from was the Ebola Virus Disease.

The incident caused confusion on Bankole Street, Isheri-Oke, when residents woke up to the sight of a woman hanging on a tree.

She was found dead hanging on the tree. She wore a black sweater and orange skirt.

It was gathered from the residents that the woman did not live on the street.

Residents who spoke under condition of anonymity said that the woman was a Liberian who worked in a sachet water factory before she died.

While they said that the woman had been sickly for some time, the residents said she did not appear to have any problem with anyone in the community.

But after the outbreak of the Ebola disease that was brought to Nigeria by a Liberian diplomat, Sawyer, some of the people in the area opted not to have anything to do with her.

One of the residents, who pleaded anonymity, said, “We see her in this neighbourhood every day. She always looked sick but people stopped selling to her after the Ebola outbreak. It could be because she was Liberian and looked sickly. This might have frustrated her.”

Another resident said, “she attended a church in the area and her church members still saw her yesterday. I used to see her every day in the dress she died in. She was sick and people in this area avoided her, especially after the Ebola outbreak.”

When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said that she was not aware of the incident and promised to check with the police division.

“I am not aware of the incident but I will check with the police division to confirm the report,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Professor Oyebuchi Chukwu while making a speech during a requiem Mass held in memory of late Dr. Stella Adedevoh on Friday at Holy Cross Cathredal, Lagos confirmed the report that a South African woman had been quarantined in× Lagos for having symptoms of Ebola,

Prof. Oyebuchi advised Nigerians to alway look out for fresh cases of Ebola because  Nigeria is not yet free from the disease until there was no trace of× Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, Congo, Serra Leone.

The minister  explained that the Federal Government decided  to shift school resumption date because of the need to train teachers on how to take care of pupils in schools.

Many of those who spoke during the Mass for late Dr Adedovoh, a Consultant with First Consultant Hospital, Obalende who was infected with Ebola while treating Sawyer, poured encomiums on her.

In another development, as the Ebola death toll mounts in Liberia, burial teams are having to contend with physical risk and trauma as they take charge of safely burying the dead, often in the face of local anger.

Ebola has killed 1,224 Liberians as of 6 September, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with 68 percent of those deaths in the past three weeks.

Cases are expected to continue to spiral across the country - 14 out of 15 counties have reported cases - with the bulk in the capital, Monrovia.

Government and Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) burial teams initially took charge of burying the dead but they could not begin to keep up with the needs and called on community members to take on this difficult task. Marcus Speare is the head of a burial team in Margibi County (next to Montserrado County), which is made up mostly of young men.

Each team is trained by the ICRC and Ministry of Health and members are paid US$300 a month.

All day long, Speare’s phone rings requesting his team to pick up more corpses. “We don’t rest. My phone rings all day every day. We are on our way right now to pick up bodies in the Community and Tower Hill. Sometimes, we get tired. But this is what we have chosen to do. We want to help our community. This fight cannot be left on government and partners alone,” he told IRIN by phone from Margibi County.

Anger and fear
Team-members must contend with rejection from their own families and communities, and anger and resistance from families they are trying to help, which at times turns into violence.

“Our vehicle has been attacked by angry residents on many occasions,” said Speare. “They have stopped us from picking up bodies from various homes. They say to us that we are responsible for the spreading of the disease. One group of youths threw stones at our bus that is used to collect bodies. But we remain very calm with them. We tell them that we also stand at risk to do this job. And that we are just helping. So there is no need to attack us.”

Police now escort teams to pick-up points

Sumo Wonder, a member of Speare’s team, told IRIN his parents have expelled him from the house. “They feel that I will infect them. Right now, I am sleeping with my friend. They say I should return when the Ebola crisis is over,” Wonder told IRIN.

Team members must also cope with the shock of having to confront so many deaths, including those of friends and family members, says the Red Cross. A driver on a burial team in Kakata, capital of Margibi County, told IRIN he was exhausted.

“Even as I speak to you we just received calls from three communities to pick up dead people. The deaths are too much. Sometimes, I get confused. I am in shock. Too many of our people are dying.”

Emmanuel Togar, member of a burial team in Kakata, the capital of Margibi County, told IRIN: “Sometimes I cry when I see someone my own age lying in a pool of blood. It is too sad. I am out of words.”

Improved pick-up rate

As more burial teams are trained, the pace of picking up the dead quickened. In the first months overwhelmed burial teams would only get to bodies three or four days after they had died, greatly upping the risk of transmission to family members as the virus remains active even in a dead body. Now the pick-up rate is usually within the day, said Fiyah Tamba, secretary-general of the Liberian Red Cross.

Pick-up gaps are still leading to bodies piling up, however, particularly in Monrovia which is experiencing ongoing protests as a result - the latest one taking place in the Capitol bypass neighbourhood on 11 September.

But Togar says they are doing their best and need others to join them. “Now as soon as our phone rings we are on the move.”

As of 6 September 2014, some 4,269 probable, confirmed and suspected cases and 2,288 deaths had been reported in the current outbreak by the health ministries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. NGO Médecins sans Frontières, WHO and affected governments have repeatedly called on international governments to step up their response if the disease is to be contained.

The Ebola outbreak could hit 15 countries across Africa - putting the lives of 22 million people at risk, a groundbreaking study has found.

Source: Nigerian Tribune
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