“We have been attacked by mobs of people many times,” said the team’s leader, Mark Korvayan, who sports a scar on his shaved head from one recent battle, and whose team is now routinely escorted by the police. “The police escort helps, but this is still a dangerous job.”
In Liberia’s teeming, close-knit shanty towns, the stigma attached to Ebola is considerable. Such is the terror inspired by its horror-movie like symptoms – victims in the latter stages can bleed from their eyes – that many are convinced it is the work of evil spirits, not a virus. Either way, families suspected of losing a loved one to it are often ostracised, as the remaining members of the Johnson family burial party are now learning the hard way.
For the last few hours, a large crowd has been eyeballing them suspiciously, and a Liberian army patrol – called in to break up the earlier scuffling – has stayed on hand hand keep the peace. The other thing that is keeping the two relatives from being physically attacked is the fear that they themselves may both be infected.
“People here have been gathering around and looking at us in a funny way,” complained one relative, as he stood by Cecilia’s body. “It is like they think there is something wrong with us.”