Shocking: In Liberia, people choose tradition over Ebola infection

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Liberia, Oct 24: It is rather strange how people choose death over life when they choose burial of an Ebola-infected person over the state-mandate of cremation. With close to 4,500 Ebola deaths in Liberia and more in the counting, the numbers are attaining destructive heights. However, interestingly, the hospital beds are empty. A recent analysis has shown that more than 391 beds out of 742 beds were empty in the government hospitals.

A survey shows that people, fearing the violation of their tradition of burying the dead, are avoiding going to the hospitals as health standards mandate the cremation of the infected body for fear of transmitting the infection to those handling the same.

People have, thus, chosen keep the ill at home and bury them secretly when they die.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issued the cremation decree for Monrovia and the surrounding area in August, and the government has brought in a crematorium and hired experts. The order came after people in neighborhoods of the capital resisted burials of hundreds of Ebola victims near their homes.

Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said,"For fear of cremation, do not stay home to die."

On the second Wednesday of March every year, Liberians go to the cemeteries to honor their deceased loved-ones. The scrub th eheadstones and clear them of bushes. Flowers and mementoes are later placed there.

In several parts of Liberia, tradition also requires the dead to be kept at home for weeks when the relatives dance circling the corpse for a better afterwards journey. The corpse is washed and its hair trimmed and braided before the final church congregations.

Since the recent outbreaks of Ebola, the government has stopped all burial customs as handling the corpse in Ebola cases needs special teams techniques so that the infection is transmitted from the corpse.

Guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require bodies to be wrapped in plastic shrouds, then cremated or promptly buried in hermetically sealed caskets.

OneIndia News

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