News / Africa

Armed Men Raid Liberia Ebola Quarantine Center

People pass by Ebola virus health warning signs, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 17, 2014.
People pass by Ebola virus health warning signs, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 17, 2014.
VOA News

A group of young men armed with clubs, claiming that "there's no Ebola" in Liberia, raided a quarantine center for the deadly disease in Monrovia overnight, prompting about 20 patients infected with the deadly virus to flee, a witness said Sunday.

Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through the capital's largest slum after the looters chased off Ebola patients and took items including blood-stained sheets and mattresses.

"They broke down the door and looted the place. The patients have all gone," said Rebecca Wesseh, who witnessed the attack and whose report was confirmed by residents and the head of Health Workers Association of Liberia, George Williams.

Williams, said the unit housed 29 patients who "had all tested positive for Ebola" and were receiving preliminary treatment before being taken to hospital.

"Of the 29 patients, 17 fled last night (after the assault). Nine died four days ago and three others were yesterday taken by force by their relatives" from the center, he said.

The violence in the West Point slum occurred late Saturday and was led by residents angry that patients were brought from other parts of the capital to the holding center, Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister, said Sunday.

The group also looted equipment and food from the facility, witnesses said.

Liberian police restored order to the West Point neighborhood, which is home to an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 poor Liberians.

Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization, which added that Liberia has recorded more Ebola deaths - 413 - than any of the other affected countries - Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea.

'Plague villages'

To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicenter of the virus, evoking the "plague villages" of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world.

With few food and medical supplies getting in, many abandoned villagers face a stark choice: stay where they are and risk death or skip quarantine, spreading the infection further in a country ill-equipped to cope.

In Boya, in northern Liberia's Lofa County, Joseph Gbembo, who caught Ebola and survived, said he is struggling to raise 10 children under five years of age and support five widows after nine members of his family died from the virus.

He said he has received no food or health care for the children and no help from government officials.

Aid workers said that if support does not arrive soon, locals in villages like Boya, where the undergrowth is already spreading among the houses, will simply disappear down jungle footpaths.

"If sufficient medication, food and water are not in place, the community will force their way out to fetch food and this could lead to further spread of the virus," said Tarnue Karbbar, a worker for charity Plan International based in Lofa County.

In the week ending August 13, Lofa county recorded more new cases of Ebola than anywhere else - 124 new cases of Ebola and 60 deaths.

WHO and Liberian officials have warned that, with little access by health care workers to the remote areas hidden deep in rugged jungle zones, the actual toll may be far higher.

Liberia containment strategy

In Monrovia, which still bears the scars of the brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2003, officials said controlling the situation in Lofa is crucial to overcoming the country's biggest crisis since the conflict.

With her country under threat, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has imposed emergency measures including the community quarantine and a "cordon sanitaire" - a system of medical roadblocks to prevent the infection reaching cities, widely used against the Black Death in Medieval times.

Troops have been deployed under operation "White Shield" to stop people from abandoning homes and infecting others in a country where the majority of cases remain at large, either because clinics are full or because they are scared of hospitals regarded as "death traps."

Liberia, one of the world's least developed nations, has poor Internet and telecommunications, and only about 50 doctors for a population of more than 4 million.

In Liberia, families continue to hide their sick at home. Health workers and facilities have come under attack.

Traditional funerals, where family members bathe and dress highly contagious corpses, have expedited Ebola's spread to nine of the country's 15 counties.

Neighbors Guinea and Sierra Leone have placed checkpoints in Gueckedou and Kenema, creating a cross-border quarantine zone of roughly 20,000 square kilometers, called the "unified sector."

Within this massive ring are areas where up to 70 percent of people are infected. 

"Access to these hot spots is now cut off except for medical workers," Liberia Information Minister Lewis Brown said in an interview this week.

On Saturday, Sirleaf spent the day with education teams in communities around Monrovia, trying to answer people's questions about Ebola and urge them to comply with containment measures. Hundreds of people turned out to listen and to ask questions.

Anne Look contributed to this report from Dakar. Prince Collins contributed to this report from Monrovia. Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: j. elefante from: California
September 11, 2014 11:06 PM
Could this be the reason why there has been a recent exponential spike in the amount of Ebola cases?


by: Joan C. from: Florence, SC, USA
August 18, 2014 10:43 PM
Why wasn't there some form of security there?


by: Christopher Nyentan from: New Kru Town, Monrovia
August 18, 2014 2:44 AM
Hi VOA, This Ebola epidemic is deadly and continues to take the lives of people day by day in our country, Liberia. Please VOA help me call on the international community for more support and attention to help my government that is catching it hard to fight this disease.
from: Christopher Nyentan


by: meanbill from: USA
August 17, 2014 5:57 PM
The World Health Organization (WHO) have repeatedly told the world, that this (EBOLA) outbreak that's becoming an epidemic, will not become a worldwide epidemic around the world.... Now, everyday (WHO) keeps giving out information that contradicts their ability to control the (EBOLA) epidemic outbreak, (and the EBOLA fear is spreading), and the spreading fear is causing contagious (EBOLA) carriers to flee to surrounding countries, and around the world to escape it.....

PS;.. Yea, (WHO) can control the (EBOLA) epidemic outbreak, but when they start running to escape it, the world should start worrying...... and will the flesh eating zombies, be far behind?


by: Harris W. Gbahn from: Voinjama, Lofa County
August 17, 2014 5:08 PM
Monrovia is highly becoming risky day by day with Ebola infection. For the past two weeks a family located in Jacob Town, Paynesville has lost three of their family members to this virus; the recent death took place today. Ebola Respond Unit has been informed about this incident but has deliberately refused to come to the rescue of the family and the community.
Before the three family members past out, they visited some of the community clinics around there. The behaviors of our health workers (the ebola respond unit) are helping the virus to rapidly spread in in the community.
If our government really means business to save Monrovia from ebola, the city should be divided into ten zones; deploy these health workers in the various zones so as to promptly respond to calls that will come from their assigned zones. Additionally, they should be given the mandate to conduct house to house check along with a joint security team assigned to each zone. In the absence of this, the virus will go off-hand in Monrovia few days from now.


by: JOYCE PICKARD from: MALAGASH, NOVA SCOTIA
August 17, 2014 12:45 PM
Not surprised at all by "terrorists" trying to remove any chance 4 tjeir OWN. countrymen from having acceds to this " hail mary " attempt to help......they care NOTJING 4 ANYONE BUT THEIR OWN PERVERTED.+ SKEWED WORLD-VIEW....... Saviors of tje "people" HA. !!!!! .J-DS


by: AvidReader from: California
August 17, 2014 12:07 PM
The armed men touched body fluids so they are very likely to become infected (20 days from now) (ow many?). The 29 patients who fled will become weak and need help (and so they will infect all who help them .. 30 or even 60 more people). The contaminated items will infect anyone who handles them (possibly 100 or more people and some of the police who broke up the melee will become infect (including jailers) So this incident could easily infect 1000 more people (or 3000) Very bad turn of events. (excellentreport)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid