'Dead' Ebola Victim Wakes in Plastic

Help comes easy for the dead, not the dying in Monrovia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2014 8:42 AM CDT

At the heart of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, it's difficult to find aid for those who contract the virus. As ABC News' chief medical editor Dr. Richard Besser puts it, it's easier to get help dead than alive. Case in point: Locals crowded onto a Monrovia street yesterday to watch a burial team recover the body of a man thought to have died from Ebola alongside a sidewalk, with Besser reporting live on the scene. He explained that locals had tried to get help for the 37-year-old the previous day. No one came. But following the news of his death, the burial team arrived on the scene within an hour.

The team was in for quite a shock, however. After spraying the man's body down with bleach and moving him to a black plastic sheet for wrapping, the man suddenly moved. "He's not dead. He's not dead," said Besser, as ABC's cameras captured the victim's arm moving slightly. The man was able to hitch a ride on a passing ambulance, but "I don't know where they could take him," Besser said. "There are no hospitals to treat him" in Monrovia, where free beds are scarce. AFP took a look at the lack of beds earlier this week, noting that one clinic had its 120 beds full within 24 hours of opening; a Belgian aid worker who functioned as a "bouncer" at a 160-bed Doctors Without Borders clinic quit, unable to deal with the stress of turning away the sick and dying. (Meanwhile, an NBC cameraman is the fourth American hit with Ebola in Liberia.)

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