News / Africa

Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

  • A man working for a humanitarian group throws small bags of water to the residents behind the fence as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
  • West Point residents stand behind a green string marking a holding area, as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
  • Liberian policemen (right) speak with residents of the West Point area to calm them down as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
  • Kevin Brantly, the American doctor who, along with a second American aid worker, contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia, has recovered and was discharged from Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Kevin Brantly, who contracted the deadly virus Ebola, looks at his wife Amber during a press conference at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Kevin Brantly (left), who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, looks down as his wife Amber (center) hugs a member of Emory's medical staff during a press conference at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Kevin Brantly, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, hugs a member of Emory's medical staff during a press conference at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Kevin Brantly (left), who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, thanks Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit during a press conference at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
US Ebola Patients Released From Hospital, 'Pose No Threat'
Anne Look

The situation remains tense in the Liberian capital after authorities quarantined two large suburbs there this week. The government said it is trying to stop Ebola from spreading further in Monrovia, but people stuck inside the barricaded areas say they are getting hungry and restless.

Two days into the quarantine in Dolo Town and food prices are going up. A 25-kilo sack of rice that would normally sell for $25 is now $40.

“As I speak to you, even a sack of mineral water, we [are] buying it for 250 Liberian dollars. The prices are going way up. How [does] the government want us to survive?" one resident said.

The government gave no advance notice of the quarantine. Residents woke up Wednesday to police putting up checkpoints and makeshift barricades.

Monrovia, LiberiaMonrovia, Liberia
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Monrovia, Liberia
Monrovia, Liberia

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered no one to go in or out of Dolo Town or the West Point slum, also located outside the capital. She said the measure is intended to check the spread of Ebola in the capital.

Authorities said more than 20 people who have died in Dolo Town recently are suspected to have had the virus. There is a holding center for suspected cases there but no treatment center.

“We want to have the Ebola test conducted in our community so we can be free and move in and out because I will not continue to live in a cave. Now I cannot go this way. I cannot go that way. I’m really most disappointed with this kind of situation,” another local resident said.

Families don’t keep large stocks of food at home in these mostly low-income areas.

Ebola Virus: How to Prevent Spreading the Disease

  • Avoid physical contact with people showing symptoms: continuous high fever, red eyes, vomiting and stomach ache.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently, including under the fingernails. Use soap and clean water; use hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
  • Use gloves when taking care of infected patients.
  • Avoid contact with raw meat; cook all animal food and by-products thoroughly.
  • Avoid bush meat; avoid buying or eating the wild animals, including nonhuman primates.
  • Avoid areas of known outbreaks.
  • Do not touch anyone who has died from Ebola.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, Plan International

In West Point, the quarantine sparked a panic. Residents trying to venture out to buy food Wednesday clashed with security forces, leaving at least one person dead, a teenage boy shot by police.

“They are cooperating. We are very pleased. It is not about war between any of our citizens and any authority so we are not concerned about who is winning and who is losing. They are cooperating and we are getting there,” said Defense Ministry spokesman David Dahn, who in Dolo Town Friday to assess the situation.

Newly opened Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia are already filled to overflowing, but the World Health Organization is also warning of a possible “invisible caseload of patients.”

The WHO said people in Liberia and Sierra Leone continue to hide their sick family members, either denying they have Ebola or simply wishing to let their loved ones die at home.

Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, making those who care for patients susceptible to the virus.

Liberia is now reporting more deaths and more cases than any other affected country.

Senator Clarice Jah of Margibi County, where Dolo Town is located, urged residents to follow health recommendations.

"You love your mom, if your mom come down with it, please do all you can to be able to rush your mom to the nearest center to test her. Your child or your partner, whoever it is. I have come to encourage you. I have come to build your hope,” she said.

Senator Jah was among the government officials who donated sacks of rice and beans and plastic buckets for hand washing to residents there Friday.

People at the distribution said the donated goods were nowhere near enough for the area’s some 30,000 residents.

Prince Collins reported from Monrovia, Liberia.

 

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chas Darwin from: us
August 23, 2014 5:31 AM
Famine, plague, war, or birth control. Choose. I guess you have.
Malthus.


by: Ralph Dratman from: New Jersey, USA
August 22, 2014 8:51 PM
This could turn out to be the most terrifying outbreak of disease since the Black Plague devastated europe around 1350. I cannot remember hearing of anything like this in my lifetime. It is appalling to think about closing off entire neighborhoods with the illness running wild, without medical care, lacking even food and water.

In Response

by: michael from: USA
August 22, 2014 10:48 PM
It is frightening but there have been other devastating outbreaks far past the time of the Black Plagues in Europe. Example the flu pandemic that followed WWI that killed more people than the war did. I wonder if there will be riots from the closed off slums. Pray not.

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