The City of Greenville is calm, but remains confused over the recent deaths of 11 persons in the Tiah Town Community. The confusion came from the delay by authorities to tell community dwellers what really killed or caused the deaths of all those persons in one day.
The Daily Observer, on a fact finding mission, was not able to ascertain the actual cause of the deaths.
Rev. Robinson Dweh of Greenville told the Daily Observer that, “Up to today, I don’t actually know what killed my wife; I am still confused about it.”
He said his wife had complained about her foot “and pain in her body,” for which she was repeatedly taken to the hospital, where she was initially diagnosed with hypertension (pressure), and was treated and discharged on the same night.
Then, on Monday, April 24, Mrs. Dweh came down with a strong fever, vomiting and crying from pain in her foot and headache. Rev. Dweh said she was taken to the hospital at 11p.m., and again her pressure was high, until she met her demise on Tuesday, April 25.
“My son also came down with a strong fever while we catered to his mother, but he survived. My wife did not tell me of eating anything anywhere as it has been speculated; all she could say was pain in her foot.
“My wife’s body was not in a bad condition like the other bodies where their tongues and eyes came out of them, with some in very bad condition,” he added.
Some of the healthcare officers, who did not want to be named because they are not clothed with the authority to speak to the press, described the condition of some of the bodies as “very terrible, decomposing, with swollen stomachs.”
Rev. Dweh blamed his wife’s death on recklessness and the incompetency of the nurses who handled her case. According to him, the County Health Team said at a town hall meeting that those who died were almost dead at home before their relatives took them to the hospital.
Meanwhile, a 17-year old survivor told this newspaper that on Saturday, April 22, while she was selling roasted corn, her friend gave her a Savanna Dry alcoholic drink, which she believes resulted in serious stomach pains and headache, followed by vomiting and a sore throat the next day. She said she was then given ‘anointing oil’ and later treated at the hospital.
Authorities here are tightlipped on the actual cause of the deaths or on how the victims might have contracted the unknown disease, but speculation here is that authorities have warned the community dwellers to remain silent on what happened.
But many people here believe that the deaths started at the wake keeping and funeral of one ‘Domah’ on Friday and Saturday respectively, which is yet to be verified. However, the late Domah’s family has refused to talk to the press about what led to his demise.
Some of the dead included children and the elderly.
Since the local radio station in the city is off the air, many myths surround the Greenville situation, thereby creating more uncertainty and uneasiness among the residents.
Local authorities on April 30 called a town-hall meeting to clear the air on what was happening in the county. Liberty Radio station manager David Dee Kpangbala quoted the County Health Officer as telling the residents that the victims died from food poisoning. He added that the government is investigating to establish the type of poison.
Meanwhile, a representative of the residents said, “Most of those who died came to the hospital very sick and in critical condition.”
It may be recalled that in 2005, several miners died at one of the diamond mining camps in Sinoe after their drinking water was allegedly contaminated with poison.
Schools have been closed since the Greenville incident started last week; and according to locals, parents are hesitant to allow their children to attend classes, despite being encouraged to do so.
Meanwhile WHO officials said on Friday that they are investigating the troubling report, describing it as a “cluster of unexplained illnesses and deaths in Sinoe.”
Since Monday, at least 17 people have fallen ill with fever, headache and diarrhea. Eleven have died and five are still hospitalized at the Francis Grant Hospital in Greenville. While the symptoms appear to mimic those of Ebola in the early stages, specimens analyzed from seven of the deceased came back negative for the virus.
WHO said rapid-response teams from its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners have been sent to the area and are looking into reports that the victims may have attended the funeral of a religious leader and reportedly ate some poisonous food.