Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through the capital's largest slum after residents raided a quarantine center for suspected patients and took potentially infectious items including blood-stained sheets and mattresses.
The violence in the West Point slum Saturday was led by residents angry that patients were brought from other parts of the capital to the holding center, Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister, said Sunday. It was not immediately clear how many patients had been at the center.
West Point residents went on a "looting spree," stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official. The residents took medical equipment and mattresses and sheets that had bloodstains, he said.
"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.
Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, including 413 in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization.
In East Africa, the Kenyan said it would bar passengers traveling from the three West African countries hit by the Ebola outbreak. Several airlines have already suspended flights to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, including British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Arik Air and ASKY Airlines. Nigeria became the fourth Ebola-affected country late last month after a Liberian-American man sick with the disease flew to Lagos on an ASKY flight and infected several people before he died.
Officials in Cameroon, which borders Nigeria, announced Friday it would suspend all flights from all four Ebola-affected countries. Korean Air announced on Thursday it would temporarily halt its service to Kenya even though there are no cases of Ebola in the country.
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-- Associated Press
First published August 17 2014, 11:39 AM