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Travelers bypass -As Guinea quarantines 816 

Reports from Nimba County speak of travelers commuting between Liberia and Guinea despite the official closure of borders announced by the Government of Liberia in the wake of renewed Ebola outbreak in that country.

Liberian authorities announced the border closure with Guinea Monday in Monrovia following reports of four new cases from there. There are currently 816 contacts in quarantine. Liberia’s Minister of Information Lenn Eugene Nagbe said, the borders will remain closed until the latest Ebola outbreak is dealt with by the Guinean authorities.

Minister Nagbe saidthe Government of Liberia has already deployed medical personnel with kits and Ebola prevention materials along the various borders with Guinea to contain contacts and prevent the virus from again spreading into Liberia.

But The NewDawn Nimba Correspondent, who visited the border in Ganta, Nimba County says it seems like the Presidential directive is not being effectively observed here as all crossing points between Nimba and Guinea are open with Liberian border security personnel, including Immigration officers, Customs personnel and inspectors from the Ministry of Commerce extracting huge sums of money from travellers before allowing them to enter and leave the County.

Due to the porosity of borders between the two countries, commuters in cohort with border security establish crossing points in bushes and along river banks to bypass the official borders. Residents of towns and villages along the unofficial crossing points have expressed fear of the virus spreading into their communities by unsuspecting travelers.

“My son, we are local people; we have no voice; we can tell them every day that what you people are doing is not good for us. This thing will cause Ebola to come back to Liberia”, one villager lamented.

Prior to the border closure, Liberian Joint Security personnel assigned at the Ganta-Guinea border have been extorting money from Guinea traders to smuggle gas, rice and cement from Liberia. The authorities here describe these goods as essential commodities, which are not allowed to be exported. 

Our correspondent says these undercover crossing points into Guinea has no assigned health personnel to check the health status of those coming in and leaving the country except for security officers to collect money.

Recently, a patient came from Guinea thru the Yekepa border and was immediately rushed to the Ebola Treatment Center [ETU] in Sanniquellie, but was pronounced negative, according to the head of the Nimba County Health Team, Dr. Collins Saa Bowah.

Some ETU workers were seen dancing after they heard news of a case from Guinea thru Yekepa, apparently for financial remuneration. “My brother, we are about to make money again”, a group of health workers said as they walked in the streets of Ganta.

Another health worker boasted, “Like me tell you, this gone Ebola we made money and I was able to build my house.” The latest outbreak in Guinea has created panic among residents of Nimba County as some of them have families, including wives or husbands along with other relatives in Guinea.-Edited by Jonathan Browne

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