Fresh Graves Point to Undercount of Ebola Toll

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
By Paul Martin

By ADAM NOSSITER
NYTimes.com
SEPT. 22, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The gravedigger hacked at the cemetery’s dense undergrowth, clearing space for the day’s Ebola victims. A burial team, in protective suits torn with gaping holes, arrived with fresh bodies.

The backs of the battered secondhand vans carrying the dead were closed with twisted, rusting wire. Bodies were dumped in new graves, and a worker in a short-sleeve shirt carried away the stretcher, wearing only plastic bags over his hands as protection. The outlook for the day at King Tom Cemetery was busy.

“We will need much more space,” said James C. O. Hamilton, the chief gravedigger, as a colleague cleared the bush with his machete.

The Ebola epidemic is spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone’s densely packed capital — and it may already be far worse than the authorities acknowledge.

Since the beginning of the outbreak more than six months ago, the Sierra Leone Health Ministry reported only 10 confirmed Ebola deaths here in Freetown, the capital of more than one million people, and its suburbs as of Sunday — a hopeful sign that this city, unlike the capital of neighboring Liberia, had been relatively spared the ravages of the outbreak.

The Rest…HERE

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