When the body collectors arrived at the home of Theresa Jacob, at the top of a rocky hillside in Liberia’s capital, her family fought to keep her body. She didn’t die of Ebola, they insisted, showing a stack of hospital documents.
It was a futile battle. After a long argument, a team of Red Cross specialists entered the house in full Hazmat suits, goggles, masks, hoods, boots and two layers of gloves. They disinfected the body of the 24-year-old woman with a heavy chlorine spray, put her into a body bag, carried her down the hillside to their truck and drove her away to be cremated.
Because of the risk of Ebola, every body in Monrovia now is collected and burned, regardless of the cause of death. It’s a symptom of a nearly collapsed state in a massive emergency, when extraordinary measures are needed. With at least 1,830 deaths by official count ”“ and two or three times that number by unofficial estimate ”“ Liberia is the most devastated country in the Ebola zone.