Ebola: infected bodies dumped outside hospital in Sierra Leone
Burial workers discard bodies in protest over unpaid wages as government admits money has 'gone missing'
The highly infectious bodies of Ebola victims have been dumped outside a hospital in Sierra Leone by burial workers who have been left unpaid because government money has "gone missing".
Up to 15 bodies, including those of two babies were abandoned in the eastern city of Kenema by workers who say they have not received their hazard pay for over seven weeks. Government officials said that the workers responsible would be immediately dismissed.
"Displaying corpses in a very, very inhumane manner is completely unacceptable," said the spokesman for the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), Sidi Yahya Tunis. The bodies also posed a serious infection risk to local population, he added.
Workers are entitled to receive weekly hazard pay due to the high risk of contracting the disease, as bodies of the dead are even more infectious than living Ebola patients.
"When the person has just died, that is when the body is most contagious," World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told the Washington Post. "It's when the virus is overtaking the whole body."
The government has said it paid the money to the district health management team but that it had subsequently gone missing. "Somebody somewhere needs to be investigated [to find out] where these monies have been going," Tunis of the NERC told Reuters.
The death toll of the current epidemic has now risen to 5,459, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea the worst affected.
In other developments:
- Officials in Mali have confirmed an eighth case of Ebola, making it the sixth West African country to be affected by the disease.
- The WHO has said that its 1 December deadline to contain the outbreak will be will not be fully met due to the rising numbers of cases in Sierra Leone.
- China has promised to step up its Ebola response. After being criticised for its lack of contribution to efforts to tackle the outbreak, Beijing has now pledged to send up to 1,000 health care workers to help fight the disease.