It has been a month since I last posted an update on the Ebola Virus disease (EVD) in my country. The first update was on August 21. Well, at this juncture, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to post another update, although I am aware that people are reading or hearing about the virus on the Internet and on international media outlets.
My dear friends, the spread of the virus is getting graver and graver by the day and the number of deaths emanating from the virus is increasing unbelievably exponentially. It is troubling.
When the presence of the virus was detected or reported sometime in March, we heard of only one county (Lofa County) having cases of the virus. But hear the startling revelation. The Ministry of Health of the Liberian government announced yesterday that of the fifteen (15) counties Liberia is comprised of, fourteen are now affected by the virus. It is terrifying.
Not only that. The number of deaths is also staggering. It is discouraging and terrifying. A few months ago, we were only hearing about a few deaths. Today, the situation is different. Just yesterday, too, the Ministry of Health reported that 1,500 persons have died of the virus so far. Can you imagine? But hear this. It is a known fact that the number of deaths is under-reported. What does this tell you?
Another sad situation contributing to the increase in the death rate is the lack of enough space for people having Ebola or suspected of having Ebola. No space – and no beds – for many people who go or are taken to the various Ebola holding centers for admittance or treatment. They are rejected by these treatment centers. Many of these people are seen standing or sitting in front of these centers hopelessly helpless. It is pathetic. Some of them die right in front of the centers. There are numerous heart-breaking scenes and stories all around.
But it also has to be said that not all those who have died actually died of the Ebola virus. Sadly, those collecting dead bodies do not, generally speaking, distinguish between Ebola-related bodies and non-Ebola bodies. Almost all bodies are treated as Ebola bodies, and these bodies are either cremated or buried some kind of way. It is sad – really sad. For example, people dying of cholera or diarrhea or some other illness are buried like Ebola bodies. It is painful for relatives and friends left behind.
There is also another hopelessness associated with the spread of the virus. And that is most health centers and workers are refusing to accept or treat other patients that go to them. The reason? The patient could be carrying the Ebola virus. Diarrhea patients are rejected. Cholera patients are rejected. Malaria patients are rejected. Pregnant women and girls in labor pain are rejected. Some of them give birth in cars, in the street or in front of hospitals. It is sad and shameful. Pressure patients are rejected. People suffering from stomachache are rejected. Many people are dying unnecessarily in this land. And guess what? When these people die, they are treated as if they were Ebola patients. It is a horrible situation.
Another problem most Liberians find themselves in during these difficult times is the increase in the prices of many commodities. In fact, the Ministry of Commerce announced publicly a few days ago that Liberians should expect increase in the prices of basic commodities, especially food and petroleum. The price of a bag of rice has already gone up. It is not easy. Not only have things been tough on many people, it is actually getting tough on more people.
In all this, this is what we can say for now: “God, have mercy and save our land.”