Monrovia: Bodies of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone are at risk of being abandoned on the streets of Freetown, due to a strike by burial teams angry over not receiving their pay.
The strike began Wednesday after 200 new cases of the deadly infection were identified at the end of a three-day round-the-clock curfew declared by the Sierra Leone government to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mariama Bangura, a 40-year-old housewife and mother of four who obeyed the curfew, told Spanish news agency Efe that the teams' decision to go on strike was "unforgivable".
Refusing to collect bodies would cause risks to other citizens, Bangura said. She expressed hope that the government under President Ernest Bai Koroma would act quickly to put an end to the crisis.
Speaking over radio Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister Madina Rahman said if the strike went on, it would undermine all the progress that has been made so far in Sierra Leone's fight against the Ebola outbreak.
Rahman said the dispute centred on a one-week backlog for hazardous duty pay that had been deposited in the bank, but was not given to the burial teams on time.
"The health ministry is going to investigate the delay in the health workers not receiving their money," Rahman said.
As of Monday, 678 people have been killed by Ebola in Sierra Leone since the outbreak of the disease in March.
The disease has claimed over 3,400 lives in West Africa.