The recent Ebola death toll in Mali has dashed the WHO’s report that the country was free from the deadly epidemic, and this follows the death of an Islamic cleric and the nurse that treated him and another friend that attended to him.

The 70-year old Muslim cleric, or Imam, identified as Goika Sekou, was treated at the Polyclinique Pasteur hospital in Bamako after falling critically ill and then later died of kidney failure. Since he had travelled from the Guinea border with Mali alongside four family members in a family car, his body was taken to a mosque in Bamako to be washed according to Islamic rites before being transported back to Guinea for burial.

But the Malian nurse that treated him, 25-year old Saliou Diarra, contracted the deadly Ebola disease and soon died. She was the first Ebola fatality from within Mali – the case of the 2-year old Fanta Conte and the Imam were brought from Guinea into Mali. A friend that visited the Imam at the hospital was also reported to have died from symptoms that looked that that of Ebola.

Following the death of the Imam and the nurse, the hospital has been quarantined with ordinary patients, 30 medical staffs, and 15 UN African soldiers all locked in within the hospital for monitoring. While a team of investigators are currently tracking health workers and searching the nation’s capital and even the Imam’s village home for people that might have been exposed to the disease, a doctor at the Pasteur clinic has been placed under observation after signs that he might have developed Ebola symptoms.

With over 5,000 Ebola deaths recorded in West Africa, traditional funeral rites have been responsible for the direct spread of the Ebola disease because it is largely transmitted through the bodily fluids of the recently deceased or of patients undergoing treatments.

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