Sunday, August 17, 2014

Report: Armed men attack Liberia Ebola clinic, freeing patients


Liberian police depart after firing shots in the air while trying to protect an Ebola burial team in the West Point slum on August 16, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. A crowd of several hundred local residents, chanting, 'No Ebola in West Point,' drove away the burial team and their police escort. The mob then forced open an Ebola isolation ward and took the patients out, many saying that the Ebola epidemic is a hoax. The isolation center, a closed primary school originally built by USAID, was being used by the Liberian health ministry to temporarily isolate people suspected of carrying the virus. Some 10 patients had 'escaped' the building the night before, according to a nurse, as the center had no medicine to treat them. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people in four West African countries, with Liberia now having the most deaths.  JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through the capital's largest slum after residents raided a quarantine center for suspected patients and took items including bloody sheets and mattresses.
The violence in the West Point slum occurred late Saturday and was led by residents angry that patients were brought to the holding center from other parts of Monrovia, Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister, said Sunday.
Local witnesses told Agence France Presse that there were armed men among the group that attacked the clinic.
"They broke down the doors and looted the place. The patients all fled," said Rebecca Wesseh, who witnessed the attack and whose report was confirmed by residents and the head of Health Workers Association of Liberian, George Williams.
Up to 30 patients were staying at the center and many of them fled at the time of the raid, said Nyenswah. Once they are located they will be transferred to the Ebola center at Monrovia's largest hospital, he said.
The attack comes just one day after a report of a crowd of several hundred local residents, chanting, 'No Ebola in West Point,' drove away a burial team and their police escort that had come to collect the bodies of suspected Ebola victims in the slum in the capital, Reuters reports.
West Point residents went on a "looting spree," stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press. The residents took medical equipment and mattresses and sheets that had bloodstains, he said. Ebola is spread through bodily fluids including blood, vomit, feces and sweat.
"All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients," the official said, adding that he now feared "the whole of West Point will be infected."
Some of the looted items were visibly stained with blood, vomit and excrement, said Richard Kieh, who lives in the area.
The incident creates a new challenge for Liberian health officials who were already struggling to contain the outbreak.

No comments:

Post a Comment