The NEWS (Monrovia)

25 March 2014

Liberia: Ebola Threat Worries Liberia

Officials say they are working with international organizations to help curtail the spread of the disease (file photo).

One of the world's deadly infections, Ebola virus, is reportedly making its way into Liberia barely 24 hours after the epidemic is said to have claimed the lives of some 60 persons in neighboring Guinea.

According to reports, the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea is particularly devastating because medical staff are reported to be amongst the first victims.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that the disease is also dangerous because there's no specific treatment or vaccine for it.

The Government of Liberia confirmed on Monday that about six Guinean nationals who crossed into the country recently are alleged to have died of the Ebola virus.

Of the six who entered into the country from the Lofa belt, three died of the disease; two were reportedly treated and repatriated to Guinea, while one is reported to be on critical list undergoing treatment at a health center in Liberia's northern region.

Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs Isaac Jackson told The NEWS yesterday that the Liberian government is concerned about the situation and has dispatched a team of medical personnel to the region, including towns and villages bordering Guinea.

He said situation involving the spread of the virus is serious and that the country is at the brink of it attack.

Although it hasn't been proven medically that Liberians have been infested by the Ebola virus, however, the government has issued a warning to its citizens and other nationals in the country to take precaution and stay safe.

Minister Jackson said the public is advised to be cognizant of the danger of the disease and ensure that their hands are washed regularly, avoid eating fresh meat, kissing as well as embracing, because according to him, these are some of the mediums through which the virus is spread.

Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected person or wild animal.

Reports of the spread of the Ebola virus became serious after the World Health Organization (WHO) released pieces of information of suspected cases of the lethal hemorrhagic disease are being investigated in southeast border areas of Guinea.

According to the WHO, at least 80 cases and 59 deaths have been recorded across the West African country, the United Nations Children's Fund said on Saturday, March 22.

The United Nations said Ebola, believed to be Africa's biggest outbreak, threatens to spread from Guinea to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the government has taken measures to prevent any outbreak in a country struggling to recover following over decade of civil war.

"The forest region where UNICEF delivered the emergency assistance on Saturday is located along the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia with many people doing business and moving between the three countries," said Laurent Duvillier, a Unicef spokesman, in an e-mail to news agencies.

He warned that the "risk of international spread should be taken seriously" by all the nations in the subregion. Unicef plans to dispatch 5 metric tons of aid, including medical supplies, to the worst-affected areas in Guinea and probably in Liberia.

There has been no case of an outbreak yet in Liberia, however, WHO officials said the outbreak of the disease in Guinea may be heavier than the 59 that died.

The Geneva-based WHO hasn't previously recorded any outbreaks of Ebola in Guinea, the world's biggest exporter of bauxite, which is the ore used to make aluminum.

At least eight health-care workers who were in contact with infected patients have died, hindering the response and threatening normal care in a country already lacking in medical personnel.

Ebola was first identified in 1976 in Congo and Sudan, when two different strains of the virus killed 431 of the 602 people infected.

Recent Ebola outbreaks have occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 and in Uganda in 2011, according to the WHO.

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