Liberian bikers use Ebola suits as raincoats
Commercial motorcyclists wear leather suits, used to protect health workers from contracting Ebola, to stay dry during rainy season

It rains a lot in Liberia over the summer, but Emmet Kollie is more comfortable this year as he rides his commercial bike wearing an "Ebola raincoat.”

"I know the Ebola suit was used for Ebola, but Ebola is no more here,” he told Anadolu Agency. "It was used to fight Ebola by our health workers, but it also protects us [cyclists] from the rain.”

Emmet and dozens of commercial motorcyclists in the capital Monrovia have turned to using the leather suit made to protect health workers and burial team members from contracting the Ebola virus, to stay dry during the rainy season.

The gear was brought into the country for the purpose of eradicating Ebola, but because he cannot afford spending 1,500 Liberian dollars ($18) for the regular rain coat, Emmet chose to spend just 150 Liberian dollars ($1.8) to purchase an Ebola suit in the "black market.”

Emmet did not want to disclose where he bought the suit from, but he said sellers usually put their merchandise out late at night or early in the morning.

"Those who sell the PPE [Ebola suits] to us bought them from people in the health sector,” Emmet said.

"I hate to see those cyclists wearing the PPE [Ebola suit],” Evangeline Cooper a local health worker at the Agape Health center told Anadolu Agency. "It tells me that Liberians are quick to forget.”

"In fact, we still have Ebola in Guinea and Sierra Leone and we are not far away,” she added.

It took just a single case of Ebola in March 2014 to spark an outbreak that has left 5,000 Liberians dead.

Cooper remembers just a few months ago how some of her fellow healthcare workers died from the virus due to a shortage in Ebola suits.

Some healthcare workers deserted their assignments because of the lack of protective gear and for fear of exposing their lives to the deadly illness.

"Cyclists using PPE as rain coats? I have not seen that, but if that’s what is happening, we [will] investigate,” Liberia's Minister of Health Bernice Dahn said.

The question that many Liberians are thinking about is what happens should a single case of the disease resurface in their country. Would the country go back to international NGOs and the world community to ask for more money to buy the gear?

Millions of dollars from international donors were spent to procure personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to help the poor West African country successfully eradicate Ebola.

Liberia was the worst hit by the virus, but became the first to eradicate the outbreak in the region.

But the risk of a relapse remains.

Last Modified: 2015-06-26 11:27:31
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