Burial workers in Sierra Leone have left corpses on a street outside a hospital in the city of Kenema in protest of not having received pay bonuses for managing victims of Ebola.
A spokesperson for workers on strike said they have gone on for seven weeks without their weekly hazard allowance.
Although officials recognized the payments have not been made, they said those on the Ebola Burial Team would be dismissed, Reuters reports.
“Displaying corpses in a very, very inhumane manner is completely unacceptable,” said Sidhi Yahya Tunis, spokesman for the National Ebola Response Centre, according to Reuters.
Tunis also said the central government already provided the payment to the district health management team and told Reuters that an investigation needs to be conducted to discover where the money has been going.
“Action will definitely be taken against those who delayed their pay,” Tunis told BBC.
Residents said up to 15 bodies were dumped, two of which were babies. Three of the bodies were left at a hospital entrance to prevent people from coming inside.
Ebola has resulted in more than 1,200 deaths in Sierra Leone since March, and infection rates have increased in the region. The outbreak in Liberia and Guinea, however, appears more contained.
Worldwide, approximately 5,500 have died from the disease.
In an effort to further combat the outbreak, China has offered to provide further assistance in dealing with Ebola victims.
“More then 600 medical staff and public health experts have been sent to the affected countries in western Africa and the number is estimated to grow to 1,000 in the coming months,” said Chinese Vice Minister for National Health Cui Li.
Although Ebola is spread when the bodily fluids (such as blood, vomit, and even urine and semen) of an infected person enter another individual through broken skin, the virus remains even after a victim has died. This presents a hazard for burial workers, who often wear protective clothing as a precautionary measure.
Health professionals strongly advise that the bodies of individuals who have died from Ebola be buried immediately to reduce the risk of infection.
(With reports from BBC and Reuters)