30 August 2014

Liberia: Free At Last - West Point Quarantine Lifted After Ten Days

Monrovia — The quarantine imposed by the government of Liberia on West Point has been lifted. The busy shopping district of Waterside came alive, early Saturday morning as shop owners for the first time in ten days began to open their stores again.

Residents of West Point have been hauled up in their homes and were not allowed to leave their community. There were security forces deployed in the area coupled with the nationwide curfew. The quarantine came after the looting of an isolation center by some residents of the community. Residents rejoiced as news reached them about the turnaround by the government.

"Even though I felt bad for what happened, but for God all things are possible," said Willie Williamson a resident of the area who was jubilating in the streets.

"This shows we do not have Ebola in West Point. It is God that made it possible today for us to be out, because they said 21 days to receive the symptoms but God freed us on the 10th day. I give God the glory for allowing us to see this wonderful day."

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf quarantined West Point on August 20, 2014 after residents looted the M. V. Massaquoi School and set suspected Ebola patients free.

An overwhelmed Olivia Roberts a resident of the community said she was happy that the blockade had been lifted and she was happy that she could now go back to doing her business.

"I'm just going to start from a root level now. Put me on TV, (dancing). They told us that the road is open. Really I did not believe it when they told me," she said.

"We used to cry, no food, when our relatives bring food and we come for it, it was just like when you crossing a border to go to another country. That is how it was in West Point. I'm over-happy today."

The government announced Friday night that it would lift the Ebola quarantine on the large slum 10 days after it was imposed.

"Residents of the neighborhood, West Point, will be free to move in and out starting Saturday at 6 a.m.," said Lewis Brown, information minister. The army, which had pressed for the quarantine and took the lead in enforcing it was removed from West Point. There was equally no police presence in the area on Saturday.

Brown said the nationwide curfew, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., would remain in place.

"This was a tool intended to help the community to help themselves and get the help they desperately need," Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview. "We're pleased with the way that the community has owned up to this."

Bloody clashes between security forces and residents broke out as the government tried to impose the quarantine while at the same time evacuating the commissioner of the area and her family on August 20, 2014 the same day the quarantine was effected.

The clashes led to the shooting of a 15-year old boy, Sheaki Kamara in the leg which led to his death that same day.

Kamara died at the Redemption hospital as a result of the wound he sustained.

Hospital sources confirmed gunshot wounds on Kamara and but the Chief medical director at the hospital Dr. Mohamed Sankor said the boy was brought in with two others from the riot scene.

He said the boy was bleeding profusely when he was brought in to the hospital. Dr. Sankor confirmed hat the other two were discharged Thursday Morning.

Kamara was buried by the government at the Islamic cemetery on the Old Road in Sinkor.


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