By Ahmed J. Sheriff in Kenema
A laboratory technician at the government hospital in Kenema is now helping the police in their investigation after he was accused of manipulating results of suspected Ebola cases, according to the police media officer at the Kenema police station, B.J. Musa.
Speaking to Concord Times yesterday, Musa confirmed the police had arrested one Musa Bangura of No.9 Saffa Street in Kenema for soliciting and obtaining money illegally.
He said Bangura was arrested following allegations he solicited and received money from suspected Ebola patients or their families to falsify laboratory results.
He said the suspect was arrested on Wednesday (13 August) and detained overnight, but was released to medical personnel after he vomited, just as he was about to be interrogated by detectives yesterday.
The police media officer said detectives would continue interrogating the suspect if his diagnosis was negative, and that the public will be provided further details.
According to reports making the rounds in Kenema, which have gone viral on social media, Bangura and another unidentified colleague have been manipulating Ebola test results for the sum of Le30,000 from suspected patients or their families.
The reports alleged that scores of results were falsified from positive to negative and vice visa, depending on whether the said amount was paid or not.
With those contracting the disease being stigmatised by their communities, and dead Ebola patients buried without any ritual, which people relish, many families dread the prospect of a family member being declared positive with Ebola as many have gone on to die at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kenema and subsequently being buried by special burial teams without the involvement of their families.
Reports in Kenema say the unholy syndicate was busted by a special Ebola Task Force constituted by descendants of the district. Since the outbreak of the disease, many in the town have suspected foul play by hospital officials as the number of positive Ebola cases and deaths continue to increase in the district, which together with Kailahun, is the epicentre of the virus.
Residents of the town had threatened to burn down the hospital in late July, forcing police to intervene, using teargas canisters to disperse the irate crowd.
If this latest allegation is true, it would only reinforce the suspicion of locals that the Ebola virus was a deliberate sinister plot to decimate their number.