The New Dawn (Monrovia)

20 August 2014

Liberia: 17 Ebola Suspects Caught

Photo: Unicef
Special material was developed to support Liberian community outreach activities to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Government of Liberia has announced that all 17 suspected Ebola patients who flew the looted isolation center in the densely populated slum of West Point have been located and quarantined at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia. Angry residents of the slum community over the weekend stormed the Ebola isolation center and looted materials and food items, as many of the suspected patients flew the center.

Speaking Tuesday at the Information Ministry during a regular press briefing, Minister Lewis Brown said the people of West Point deeply regret the action that was exhibited over the weekend and have asked the forgiveness from the government, and even pleading with the government to consider them in re-opening the center. He said the 17 suspected Ebola patients would be at the JFK Medical Center for the next 21 days, where they will be observed of further symptoms.

He noted that it has come to the attention of the residents of West Point that the isolation center is not to keep groups of people in one place, but to help stop the spread of the deadly virus. He further stated that the suspected victims were well traced and some of them even came in willingly after the incident had occurred.

He said it appeared that people of that area did not initially understand the importance of the isolation center in their community, adding they had thought the government plans was to harm them. He said now that they understand the value of the center in their community, they have decided to call on the government to re- open the center where they can be taken care of, monitor and supervise by health workers.

He further explains that the generator and some mattresses, which were stolen from the center have been retrieved and turned over to the township and community leaders. Meanwhile, Mr. Brown said at least about 34 persons have survived the Ebola virus from the ELWA treatment center where they spent 21 days as suspected patients with Ebola virus.

He cautioned people against running away from isolation centers, while indicating that most of the clinics and hospitals were reopened and he encouraged parents to take their children in order to get immunization vaccines for other diseases.

West Point to be quarantined:

The Senate's health committee here has announced that the Liberian Government is considering quarantining West Point Township. Grand Kru Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman, said that the national task force is expected to meet on Friday to finalize discussion on quarantining the township from the rest of the capital, Monrovia.

Speaking to his colleagues in plenary Tuesday at the Capitol, Senator Coleman, a former health minister, said the infamous looting and vandalizing of the Ebola holding center in West Point is worrisome and dangerous to the entire country. He pointed out that the government through some residents has managed to re-summon 17 suspected Ebola patients back to the center.

The violence in the West Point slum occurred late Saturday led by angry residents that patients were brought from other parts of the capital to the holding center, Tolbert Nyenswah, the Assistant Health Minister, said Sunday. It was not immediately clear how many patients had been at the center.

West Point residents went on a "looting spree," stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press. The residents took mattresses, sheets and blankets that had bloodstains, which could spread the infection.

Police restored order to the West Point neighborhood, which is home to an estimated 100,000 poor residents. Health officials say they fear the looting incident will spread Ebola infections in the capital, Monrovia.

Sen. Coleman also told his colleagues that the government has instructed the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL to erect checkpoint between Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties and another one between Rivercess and Sinoe Counties. He explained that the checkpoints are intended to restrict the movements in that travelers will be checked regularly as they move about.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday announced the number of confirmed and likely infections has risen to 2,240, including 113 new cases reported late last week. The majority of the new deaths were in Liberia, where authorities are struggling to contain the virus.

Between Aug. 14-16, Liberia recorded 53 new deaths, followed by Sierra Leone, with 17, and Guinea, 14. The government has reported the improving health of three Ebola-infected health care workers, who received the experimental drug Zmapp.

Medical professionals treating the three workers say the tree are showing "very positive signs of recovery" and are making "remarkable" progress, the authorities here have said.

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InFocus

Liberia: Curfew After Ebola Center Attack

Special material was developed to support Liberian community outreach activities to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The communities of West Point in Monrovia and Dolo Town in Margibi have been quarantined under full security watch. Read more »