The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been yet to trace at least 20 patients infected with the deadly virus who fled its holding unit established in the Township of West Point after it was vandalized and looted on Saturday.
Since the Ebola quarantine center was raided by angry youth in the West Point community, there has not been informed about the whereabouts about the escapees. But the Ministry of Health has announced that it would conduct screening in the township because most of the escapees were residents of the community admitted at the center.
The center was built to quarantine Ebola suspects and patients in the densely populated slum community of West Point was attacked and looted Saturday evening by protesters disfavoring the presence of the center and inmates.
Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services Tolbert Nyensuah told journalists on Sunday that the protesters burglarized and looted the Ebola holding unit, while security apparatus play a low profile to avoid casualties. He said the angry rioters instilled fear and looted food supply to the unit conveyed by the health team for the Ebola suspects.
A minimum of about 30 persons was kept at the West Point holding unit meant to contain persons suspected of Ebola symptoms, but yet to be confirmed of the disease. However, Nyensuah said the West Point Township Commissioner, who had earlier identified and reported the Ebola suspects to the Ministry, would help in tracing them.
Police restored order to the West Point neighborhood- home to an estimated 50,000 impoverished Liberians. Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization, with Liberia recording more Ebola deaths – 413 – than any of the other affected countries – Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea.
Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicenter of the virus to try to control the Ebola epidemic from spreading through West Africa.
In Foya, Lofa County, Joseph Gbembo, who caught Ebola and survived, said he was struggling to raise 10 children under five years of age and support five widows after nine members of his family died from the virus. He said he has received no food or health care for the children and no help from the government.
“If sufficient medication, food and water are not in place, the community will force their way out to fetch food, and this could lead to further spread of the virus,” said Tarnue Karbbar, a worker for the charity Plan International based in Lofa County.
In the week ending August 13, Lofa County recorded more new cases of Ebola than anywhere else – 124 new cases of Ebola and 60 deaths.