Officials in Liberia are urging suspected Ebola patients to return to an isolation center that was attacked and looted by armed men on Saturday.
The Liberian government said up to 20 people suspected of having the deadly disease went missing after the attack in the West Point neighborhood of the capital, Monrovia.
On Monday, government spokesman Lewis Brown urged the missing patients not to endanger others.
“We know that you were forced out by looters and vandals," said Brown. "We are encouraging you to please return. And those who looted those things, you have placed yourselves at risk.”
Looters carried away potentially contaminated mattresses, bedding and gloves from the center. Brown said those people also should come in for observation.
Armed police were on the streets of West Point on Monday, amid a sense of panic in the Liberian capital. One resident called for the government to check anyone going in and out of the area.
“Our people are living beyond fear now because those that escaped from the testing center are going to infect other people within the community," said one resident. "The entire West Point is no longer safe, so I think government need to barricade that area, have people going in and going out tested.”
The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with an infected person's blood or bodily fluids.
The World Health Organization says Ebola has killed more than 1,100 people in four West African countries this year, including 413 in Liberia. The total number of reported cases across the region has topped 2,100.