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.