Raid on health centre in Monrovia, Liberia may spread Ebola

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:27am


Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through Monrovia's largest slum after residents raided a quarantine centre for suspected patients and took items including blood-stained sheets and mattresses.

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

A witness said armed men claiming that "there's no Ebola" in Liberia raided the centre, prompting at least 20 patients infected with the virus to flee.

"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.

West Point residents went on a "looting spree", stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official. The looters took mattresses, sheets and blankets that had bloodstains, which could spread the infection.

Police restored order to the West Point neighbourhood, home to some 100,000 poor Liberians. Health officials say they fear the looting incident will spread Ebola infections in the capital.

Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, including 413 in Liberia, according to the World Health Organisation.

In East Africa, the Kenyan government took steps to prevent the disease from spreading. Kenya will bar passengers travelling from three West African countries hit by the Ebola outbreak, closing a debate about whether the national airline was exposing the country to the deadly disease.

The suspension was effective from midnight tonight for all ports of entry for people travelling from or through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, said Kenya's Health Ministry. Nigeria was not included in the ban, which also allows entry to health professionals and Kenyans returning from those countries.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse