Fury as Liberian forces seal off Ebola-hit slum

August 20, 2014 1:04 pm
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A health worker with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) puts on protective gear at an Ebola isolation ward in Conakry, on June 28, 2014/AFP
A health worker with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) puts on protective gear at an Ebola isolation ward in Conakry, on June 28, 2014/AFP

, MONROVIA, August 20- Heavily armed Liberian soldiers and police surrounded an Ebola hit neighbourhood of the capital Monrovia on Wednesday after a curfew was declared, triggering fury among the trapped local residents.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday ordered a nighttime curfew and quarantined two affected areas of the country in a bid to stem the epidemic rampaging through west Africa.

The new quarantine areas include the West Point slum in Monrovia, and Dolo Town to the south of the capital.

Residents of West Point, home to about 75,000 people, reacted with fury on Wednesday, hurling stones and shouting at the security forces.

“What this woman is doing to us is inhuman,” one resident, Patrick Wesseh, said, referring to Sirleaf.

“You cannot lock us up abruptly without letting us know, how the kids will eat?”

Club-wielding youths had stormed an Ebola medical facility in West Point on Saturday, causing 17 patients to flee and raising fears of a nightmare scenario of people with the highly contagious disease wandering the city.

The patients later returned to a hospital, the country’s information minister said on Tuesday, shortly before the president announced the new security measures aimed at combatting the killer virus.

Liberia has suffered the biggest toll from the latest Ebola outbreak, with 466 deaths from 834 diagnosed cases according to the World Health Organization.

“We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural burying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government,” Sirleaf said on Tuesday.

Locals in West Point are complaining that traders are doubling the prices of their goods in the face of the ban on movement in and out of the slum.

“A bag of coal which was sold for 350 Liberian dollars ($4.5) is now sold for $10, while a small bag of rice has gone from $18 to $36,” resident Richard Kieh told a local radio station.

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