Liberia: Ebola keeps Christians away from church

religion | Oct 11, 2014 | By Martin Barillas

Most Liberians no longer attend Christian services due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola viru in the country. Fr McDonald Nah, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Monrovia said. Isolation reigns in the West African among those who have been in close contact with victims of the disease. Christians “can’t even go to church,” he told the Catholic Sun - the newspaper of the St Louis archdiocese - in a October 9 report.  “Usually in Liberia, when someone is sick… they go around to visit with the sick. But they can’t visit them at all. It has created something they have never seen before. I was in Liberia during the war, and apart from people dying, we could visit. You could go places. But with this situation, you can’t at all.”
 
Rev. Nah is currently studying at St Louis University and is expected to return to Liberia next year upon completion of his studies.
 
President Barack Obama transmitted a video to the people of Liberia this week in which he assured them of the solidarity of the American people, in addition to the approximately 1,300 troops and medical personnel who have been sent to build hospitals and assist in efforts to stem contagion. In his remarks, Obama said in the October 9 video,  “First, Ebola is not spread through the air like the flu,” while adding “You cannot get it through casual contact like sitting next to someone one a bus. You cannot get it from another person until they start showing symptoms of the disease, like fever.”
 
The chief executive also explained that “the most common way you can get Ebola is by touching the body fluids of someone who is sick or has died from it, like their sweat, saliva or blood, or through a contaminated item like a needle.”
 
This appeared to contradict the advice being provided by the Centers for Disease Control in Georgia, which is coordinating efforts in Liberia and the US. According to the CDC website, persons can be exposed to the Ebola virus upon “contact with blood or body fluids (such as urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, and semen) of a person sick with Ebola without wearing the right protective clothing. This includes wearing a mask over your mouth and nose, waterproof gloves, a gown (to protect clothing), and eye protection (goggles or a face shield – corrective eye glasses are not enough).”
 
It said further: 
 
This kind of exposure can happen if you —
Are stuck with a needle or splashed in the eye, nose, or mouth with blood or body fluids of someone sick with Ebola.
Handle blood or body fluids of a sick Ebola patient.
Touch a person who is sick with Ebola.
Touch the body of someone who died in a country where Ebola outbreaks are occurring.
Care for or live with a person who is sick with Ebola.
Spend a long amount of time within three feet (one meter) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
 
In addition, the CDC is advising humanitarian aid workers and government personnel travelling to areas contaminated by the Ebola virus to “avoid public transportation” if they develop a fever or experience other Ebola-like symptoms. Among the recommendations for travellers going to Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria or Sierra Leone, the CDC advises travelers showing Ebola symptoms and choose to visit a physician or medical facility should “Limit your contact with other people when you travel to the doctor; avoid public transportation.”
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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