Looters Attack Liberia Ebola Quarantine Center, Patients Under Observation Return Home

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 18 2014 7:22 PM

Looters Attack Liberia Ebola Quarantine Center, Patients Under Observation Return Home

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Health workers battle Ebola in Liberia.

Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images

Battling the deadly outbreak of Ebola in Liberia has been a mammoth task for the country’s government and international aid agencies. Over the weekend combating the virus’ spread got even harder when a quarantine center in Monrovia was attacked, and 17 patients being monitored for possible infection fled the medical facility. The Liberian government initially said all of the patients had been relocated to another facility after the West Point health center was looted on Saturday, but later admitted that 17 patients had gone "back into their communities,” the BBC reports. Here’s more from the BBC:

In Liberia, Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said protesters in the West Point district attacked a quarantine centre on Saturday because they were unhappy that patients were being taken there from other parts of the capital, Monrovia. Other reports suggested the protesters had believed Ebola was a hoax and wanted to force the centre to close. Mr Nyenswah had said that all the suspected patients had been transferred to an Ebola treatment centre in the John F Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia.
But on Monday, the information minister said 17 of the 37 patients were unaccounted for. He said the authorities were now trying to track them down but said he was confident they would return. Blood-stained mattresses, bedding and medical equipment were taken from the centre, a senior police officer told BBC News, on condition of anonymity. "This is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in my life," he said. "All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients." The looting spree, he added, could spread the virus to the whole of the West Point area.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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