Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Christina P. Tah, has begun discussion with prosecutors and justice sector stakeholders here to enforce a decision to prosecute Ebola infected persons who may knowingly infect others after being exposed to the disease.
Launching the “Protection Cluster” on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the Ministry of Justice on 9th Street Sinkor, in Monrovia, the Attorney General described as “serious for Liberia”, the Ebola infected American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer’s travel to Nigeria and the Eric Thomas Duncan scenario in the United States.
“For rule of law, for example, it’s taking a different dimension. Just this morning I called the assistant minister for litigation and [told] him to call the SG (Solicitor General) who is abroad, and ask her about some public announcement some time ago about people who might be prosecuted for knowingly infecting others,” she said.
The latest Ebola infected traveler to the United States, Mr. Duncan, who was not discovered with the virus until four days after arrival in States, unlike the late Sawyer, who had ignored health authorities’ advice not to travel because of his ill health.
But just as Sawyer infected nurses before his death in Nigeria, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US Dr. Thomas Frieden said, Duncan “is believed to have had a handful of contacts with people after showing symptoms of the virus, and before being isolated.”
As such, Justice Minister Cllr. Tah said, “Our people are being stigmatized here and abroad,” noting that there is a broad dimension to protection as children become orphans and women become widows when Ebola strikes families.
She warned that people, who know they have been exposed to infected individuals or to dead Ebola victims, have to take responsibility to avoid making contacts with non-infected persons, especially the blind, among others.
Besides Ebola patients travelling to Nigeria and of late in the United States, there seems to be a continuous transmission of the virus among Liberians due to denial, despite messages widely being spread through the media, cautioning people to avoid making unprotected contacts with sick or dead persons.
There continues to be claims of relatives bathing their deceased family members without knowing the cause of deaths, and such people would not avoid public places until they are attacked by the virus.