20 August 2014

Liberia: West Pointers Fear Ebola Center

Photo: FrontPageAfrica
Police officers patrolling central Monrovia.

Some residents of the densely populated slum community of West Point are claiming that young people went on the rampage Sunday because they had not accepted what they believed was becoming an Ebola isolation center in their community, for fear that it could endanger their lives.

On Saturday, August 16, rampaging youth vandalized what the government says was a holding center for suspected Ebola patients, whose cases had not been confirmed, and made away with mattresses and supplies intended for some 20 patients that were being held. The patients escaped when the youth staged a violent protest as securities tried to avoid physical contacts or making any arrest, apparently to avoid being infected with the virus.

One of the residents, Mr. Archie Popon, told reporters on Monday, August 18 that what West Point residents expected was a holding center, but the young people were enraged when they saw government carrying food and supplies allegedly, including victims from other communities.

"The community agrees to have a testing center, not an isolated center," he argued, saying, unfortunately, the Health Ministry carried food and mattresses. He claimed that Ebola death from West Point was being exaggerated to make the community unpopular, saying, "Others were dying from curable diseases among few Ebola deaths."

Notwithstanding, Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah says proper screening will be carried on in the West Point area to identify patients that fled from the holding unit. Mr. Nyenswah said close to 90 percent of those that fled the Ebola holding unit live in West Point, and they had returned to their houses.

"But as we speak, those people, the bulk of them closed to 80 to 90 percent live in that community from West Point; so they have moved back, back to the houses that they came from... we will still ensure and carry on screening in the West Point area and identify those patients that we were keeping in there," said Nyenswah.

Suspected West Point looter arrested

A suspected criminal from West Point Township, Alfred P. Nagbe, has claimed that he retrieved few mattresses and a generator from looters who broken into a holding center over the weekend and made away with items placed there for suspected patients.

Alfred said the looters used the Water Side General Market route to flee where, coincidentally, he said, his house is located so he was able to intercept them. According to him, he was only able to arrest the items stolen but the criminals escaped, adding that the items were kept in his house without telling the police.

Alfred further narrated to The NewDawn that when the incident occurred on Saturday, he called the commissioner of the township, Madam Miata Flowers, who told him to keep the items in his possession until she could arrive but did not see her until Tuesday, August 19th.

He also said that the commissioner told him not to turn any of the items over until she reaches West Point. But a combined team of security, including the Armed Forces of Liberia along with the Police Support Unit said the suspect had no right keeping those items at his house without reporting them to the authorities.

The security arrested him on suspicion that he facilitated the criminals by holding onto the stolen items and anyone who does that under the law is a criminal.

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