mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Death on the March
Ebola Panic: Guinean Health Officials Slain, Sierra Leone Shuts Down

Guinea has made six arrests in the slayings of eight people who were on a mission to educate the public about Ebola.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

A team of health and government officials, accompanied by journalists, had gone to the village of Womey, in Guinea, on Tuesday. Although there have been attacks on health centers in several affected countries, these are the first fatalities. […]

The victims from Tuesday’s attack included the deputy administrative official in Womey and the head of the health-care center there. Two top health officials from the nearby town of N’Zerekore were killed, along with a pastor and three radio journalists who had been covering the awareness campaigning. The son of the deputy administrative official managed to escape and survived, the government said.

The violence underscores the mistrust and fear that remain nearly nine months after the first person died from what was later discovered to be Ebola. The disease, which can cause bleeding from the eyes, mouth and ears, never before had sickened people in West Africa. And when it did, villagers immediately feared outsiders had brought it here. Others don’t believe Ebola exists.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to contain the accelerating outbreak, Sierra Leone gone on lockdown. Today is the beginning of a three-day national quarantine that will be enforced by some 21,000 military and paramilitary troops. Doctors Without Borders and other groups condemn this decision, in part because a recent military quarantine in Liberia’s West Point slums instigated riots that further spread the disease. They say it is likely to engender further distrust of the authorities, not to mention spur relatives of infected people to hide or smuggle them to where they cannot be discovered.

Sadly, the efforts to fight Ebola carry the risk of destroying the structures and social trust that are so important to containing the disease. It is a feedback loop not easily escaped, and these countries are likely to face more civic breakdown before the epidemic is over.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Corlyss

    Too bad it is in Boku Haram territory.

  • Fat_Man

    Similar popular outbursts occurred in Europe during the 19th Century when Cholera first became pandemic in the 19th Century:

    “When cholera had first struck Europe at the beginning of the 1830s, there had been popular disturbances in many areas; in Russia, peasants and townspeople massacred physicians, local administrators and medical teams who came to the stricken areas to lend help, in the belief that the government was trying to poison the people to reduce their burden on the state; Tsar Nicholas I was forced to appear in person to quell the unrest, as seen in this commemorative relief; in the Habsburg Monarchy angry mobs sacked castles and slaughtered quarantine officers; in Prussian towns crowds broke into isolation hospitals and forcibly removed the patients, stormed officials’ houses and resisted attempts to take victims to hospital; in Britain people rioted against the doctors, accusing them of trying to poison them in order to get bodies for the anatomy schools, along the lines of the Burke and Hare murders in Edinburgh.”

  • jfhdsiu

    The world is at the mercy of low level and ‘sub’ low level intelligences. Those people are crazed with terror and in their terror crazed actions are making things much worse for every one and actually putting the entire world at risk. One would not even want to imagine the devastation that will occur if enough of those people who ran in fear start up ‘pocket’ epidemics within remote regions where it could mutate and become worse yet…………….. “IT DON’T LOOK TOO GOOD MABEL”. My most heartfelt grief goes to those poor lost souls who won’t make it through this terrible time..

  • Danny K

    It remains to be seen what strategy, if any, the Ebola President employs.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service