Every day the outreach team go out to check the “contacts”. These are people who have lived in the same house or touched an Ebola patient during their illness or after death; touched the bodily fluids of a sick person; or handled a sick person’s clothing. We check up on these people for three weeks after their last contact (the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days).
When I went out this morning with the team one of the first houses we visited belonged to one of the patients that we buried last week. His wife was sitting there, looking extremely desolate. I asked how she was and she said, “not sick”. Of course, I hadn’t meant that. What was very difficult was that it wasn’t really possible to touch her arm or take her hand to show a bit of empathy. She is a contact and has to be monitored.
We disinfected her house as well as about seven others. Then we had had a long and loud meeting with a few of the village leaders (and all the children in the village as bystanders) to see which houses really needed to be sprayed.
Most of the houses are very small and simple. They are made of sticks with mud caked in between. People really have hardly any possessions, at least not in the houses that we disinfected.
We concentrated on disinfecting the sleeping mats, beds and any old clothes lying about. We binned the clothes, but sprayed everything else with chlorine and then put them out in the sun to dry. We only covered eight houses in total, but by the end of the morning I was completely exhausted. I have to do it all over again tomorrow, to train the second half of the team.
On the way home we had a photo opportunity with some of our favourite children. They always have cars made of old plastic bottles with lids as wheels but today we saw cars made of balsa wood with radio antenna. They had made our MSF cars!! The moon is full tonight and rose up as a red orb in the mist. Almost like a sunrise. Beautiful.