Bodies Held in Mortuary Over Ebola Fears

A number of dead bodies are held at the police mortuary in Okongo, Ohangwena Region, after initial fears that one of the deceased – an Angolan national – could have died from the deadly Ebola virus.

The body of an Angolan man, whose name the locals could not divulge, was found on Saturday last week. The man, who bled heavily from the nostrils, worked as a cattle herder in the area, according to residents of Okongo.

His body was taken to the police mortuary in Okongo, but his symptoms sparked a scare among police officers who immediately alerted the local ministry of health officials to their Ebola suspicion.

The health officials swiftly took samples from the Angolan’s body for Ebola tests and it was agreed then that the mortuary be closed, with all bodies inside, until results are obtained regarding the Angolan man’s Ebola status.

The closure of the mortuary meant all families whose deceased relatives were found in the mortuary at the time of the Ebola scare could not conduct any burials until results were obtained regarding the Angolan man’s cause of death.

Among the bodies confined in the mortuary was that of Hendrina Martin, a 72-year-old resident of Omundaungilo village who died last week allegedly due to herbal treatment that went horribly wrong.

Martin had sought help from an Oshikango-based traditional healer for her alcohol addiction. As part of her supposed treatment, Martin was allegedly ordered to drink a 750ml concoction of Castelo and Tassenberg wines, mixed with herbs.

She died on the spot and the traditional healer, aged 58, was consequently arrested, according to media reports this week.

The Deputy Health Director for Ohangwena Region, John Hango, told New Era yesterday that it was agreed that, as a precautionary measure, the police mortuary be closed until the results of the Angolan man’s cause of death were released.

This meant that no new bodies were to be taken into the mortuary and none of those inside were to leave until further notice from the health authorities.

Hango confirmed that the results tested negative against any Ebola infection.

“We can now confirm that there’s no confirmed case of Ebola in Okongo. People must continue working as usual and those bodies should be handed over to the families of the deceased persons,” Hango said.

Dead bodies are taken to police mortuaries primarily for post-mortem tests.

Ohangwena Police Regional Commander, Tylves Kampolo, confirmed that the bodies of both Martin and the Angolan man were kept at the police mortuary in Okongo.

While confirming that samples were taken for Ebola tests from the Angolan man, Kampolo denied that the delay in burials was due to an Ebola scare.

“The reason for the delay is that post-mortems are carried out on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, but there are not enough doctors to conduct the post-mortems,” he said.

“This plays a major role in the pace at which bodies are handed over to families for burials.”

Kampolo also confirmed that the Ebola tests carried on the Angolan man were negative.

Namibia, especially the ministry of health, has taken strict control measures against the possibility of Ebola, which is wreaking havoc in west Africa, trickling into the country.

Government has imposed a ban on people travelling into the country from west Africa, but many Namibians have since returned to the country from west Africa where many had gone to seek spiritual guidance from Nigerian televangelist TB Joshua.

Last week, former Ghanaian president, Jerry Rawlings arrived in the country on a five-day official visit and was, together with his wife, subjected to a thorough Ebola screening upon his arrival at the Hosea Kutako International Airport.

Source : New Era