Blood-chilling accounts of suffering and death have emerged from Guinea, where an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has claimed at least 80 lives. Although not yet the biggest outbreak in history, it has alarmed the world as the virus still has no cure.
Amid the total isolation of southern Guinea, the only area where
deadly cases of the recent outbreak have been recorded, scarce
reports have come out of the Gueckedou quarantine camp.
Set up near the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders by medical
charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the makeshift clinic -
which consists of two corrugated iron buildings and a tent
village - currently has only 20 beds and a capacity for 50
patients, AFP reported.
Some of the medics have already witnessed many deaths at the
camp. MSF's Naoufel Dridi told The Telegraph that he "never
had to deal with this many bodies in these few days on any job
"You can be helping somebody by getting them a juice, or a
glass of cold water, or whatever he wants because you know really
he has very little chance to survive, and then less than an hour
later he is dead," Dridi says.
"Then when you are putting his body in the bag, another one
behind you has died. Then another one. One old woman died with
very bad external bleeding from her body, the symptoms that are
the worst of Ebola. It is very difficult," he added.
The highly-contagious illness is passed to humans through contact
with bodies infected or killed by the virus. The 30 Guinean and
foreign clinic workers dress in simple uniforms, but those in
contact with patients are protected head to toe in sealed
biohazard suits with gloves, goggles, masks, and boots.
Patients who develop the severely acute version of the virus
often face fever, muscle pain, headaches, and sore throats,
followed by vomiting, diarrhea, body rashes, and diminished
kidney and liver function. Some Ebola patients suffer from
internal and external bleeding.
"Our staff are aware that they must keep a safe
distance...Once a person gets up, they discreetly spray the chair
to prevent others from getting infected," Pascal Piguet, an
MSF logistics expert, told AFP.
Five strains of Ebola - four of which are deadly to humans - have
been discovered since the first outbreak in the Democratic
Republic of Congo in 1976. The Guinean government says the most
volatile Zaire species has been detected in the latest epidemic.
Outside Guinea, neighboring West African countries like Sierra
Leone and Liberia - where suspected cases have been detected -
are working to control the outbreak. These countries have imposed
health and travel restrictions in the meantime.