Fears caused by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia may now be responsible for its unchecked spread throughout a Monrovian slum after residents of the nation’s capital raided a quarantine center for suspected patients, and ran off with bloody mattresses and sheets as well as other medical equipment. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids including blood, vomit, urine, sweat and feces. The center was located in a closed primary school originally built by USAID.
According to Liberia’s assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah, residents of the West Point slum (home to approximately 50,000 people as per a 2012 census survey) became angered over the fact that 30 Ebola patients had been brought to the holding center there from other parts of Monrovia, and began looting the clinic. Many of those patients fled during the attack, 10 of which were reportedly taken away by their families, as armed men ransacked the clinic shouting insults about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and chanting, “There is no Ebola in Liberia.” As a result both patients and their attackers may now be spreading the disease throughout the entire West Point neighborhood located on a stretch of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Montserrado River.
A local resident reported seeing see people “fleeing with looted items, many of which were visibly stained with human waste.”
Despite the fact that more than 400 (known) people have died from the virus in Liberia, many people there refuse to believe that the epidemic is anything more than a hoax.
Police have now restored order to the neighborhood, and once the patients are located, officials stated that they would be transferred to the Ebola center at John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center, the city’s largest hospital.
The Ebola outbreak, which began in Guinea in February, quick spread to neighboring Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and is responsible for over 1,145 deaths, including 76 new ones this past week according to the World Health Organization. To date there have been at least 2,127 verified cases.