“Burials and funerals are deeply, deeply ingrained in Sierra Leone,” said Austin Demby, a Sierra Leonean-American epidemiologist. He is the director of a U.S. government AIDS program but has been helping with Ebola containment. Officials have even threatened to jail people – once it’s clear they have not caught the disease – who prepare the corpses of their loved ones. Old ways are hard to break, though. Funerals are important social occasions in the three most-affected countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. People often travel great distances to attend and bodies are typically washed and dressed by relatives or friends. Unfortunately, these practices are the perfect breeding ground for Ebola, according the International Federation of the Red Cross. The bodies of Ebola victims can be up to 10 times more infectious than those of people living with the disease, the aid group said.
Spending cuts imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola in three West African states, UK-based researchers say. It had led to “under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems” in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, they said. The IMF denied the allegation. The deadliest Ebola outbreak ever has so far killed more than 7,300 people, mostly in the three states. “A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region, and it would be unfortunate if underlying causes were overlooked,” said Cambridge University sociologist and lead study author Alexander Kentikelenis.
A Sierra Leone government spokesman says Freetown is pleased with the cooperation of citizens after a ban on all public celebrations during Christmas began in a bid to contain Ebola. The police, army and other security agencies have been deployed to enforce the nationwide policy. “So far we are very satisfied in the sense [that] we are having absolute cooperation throughout the country, particularly in the western area. And part of the reason accounting for that is people in the western area where we are having the highest spike of cases are just too tired and fed up with the general condemnation from the rest of the country,” said government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay.
Ebola donations raised through HOTRIC Charity Shop to date are: £347.35.