A Desperate Attempt to Survive?

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Volunteer contact tracers of 72nd  Community in Paynesville, where Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who has been identified as the Ebola Virus Disease carrier to the United States, Thursday, October 2, began an awareness campaign to find locations and people with whom he might have interacted.

  Duncan, currently quarantined in ‘serious but stable condition’ at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, resides in a community that has been shocked since learning that he is suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease.

   Information reaching the Daily Observer indicates that several residents said they were unaware that the Ebola victim lived in the Ivy Apartments Complex, which is home to more than 400 people in Dallas Texas. 

  Residents there pay US$800 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.

News reports further say that apartment residents are concerned that the apartment complex has not been placed into quarantine.

   A mother, Toni Gomez, who lives across from the complex, told journalists, “I am scared. Who wants to live next to a place where there is such a horrible virus? I think the place should at least be sealed off and no one allowed in and out.”

  Ms. Gomez, who held her one-year-old daughter Demaruia, added: “I’m really concerned because I have to live here with my family.”

There was an unconfirmed report that a second male patient was being monitored in the apartment, but the Dallas County Health Department denied it.

   A spokeswoman for the Department said the residents had no idea at the time that the victim had the highly-contagious disease.

  But Ms. Gomez said she did not see any health officials at the complex, which is mostly home to newly arrived immigrants from Africa and India.

  “No one said anything to us. I found out that this was the place when the media turned up,” she said.

   Ms. Gomez, 29, who has lived at the Ivy Apartments for two years, said: “Of course I am very worried. I have three children. If the man had Ebola we should have been told. We should have been allowed to leave.”

  There was no sign of any CDC activity at the complex, which is comprised of apartments in two-story blocks set around a large car park. The managers of the apartment complex evicted media saying it was private property.

  A manager, who identified herself as Sally, shouted at media to leave claiming she has no idea the Ebola victim lived within the complex.

  Two police cars arrived to escort media from the premises while traffic cones were placed across the entrance. During the afternoon a man in his 20s arrived at the apartment holding what appeared to be a roll of black garbage bags and went in to the house, suggesting the family is disposing of items which may have been infected.

  Two women in their 20s also visited the apartment for a short while, reports said.

 At one point a young boy, aged around four, could be seen peering through the drawn blinds of the apartment that looked out onto the parking lot.

 In Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday radio reports of the awareness in 72nd Community suggested that once Duncan is out of danger, he might face prosecution.

Liberians are split over what happens with an Ebola-infected Liberian once taken to another country.  Should he face justice afterwards?  How did he get infected?

Information reaching the Daily Observer suggests that it was an act of compassion that led Mr. Duncan to contract the Ebola Virus Disease.

  Information said four days before he boarded a plane bound for USA, Duncan helped carry his landlord’s convulsing pregnant daughter to a clinic to be treated. Nathalene Williams, 19, whom Duncan had assisted, was turned away from three hospitals and one clinic. She died the following day.

Nathaline’s brother and aunt also died soon afterwards.

  The question many Liberians are asking is: Why did Duncan embark on his trip? Information Minister, Lewis Brown told journalists that Mr. Duncan did not exhibit any Ebola symptoms up to September 19, the day of his departure on a Brussels Airlines flight.

  According to sources at the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, current policy says that only those displaying symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease are barred from flying out of Liberia.

As it has been announced, the Ebola Virus can hide in an infected person for up to 2 to 21 days, which has raised serious concerns as to whether Duncan might have interacted with friends in Monrovia.

  At his former work place, SafeWay Cargo (licensed agent for FedEx) on Broad Street in central Monrovia, Mr. Duncan, as a driver, reportedly was involved in a car accident which he claimed was caused by a puncture of one of the tires.  Workers there speculate that having  acquired an American visa, he did not care and never returned to work afterwards.

  “I was surprised to hear that he had arrived in the United States,” said a former co-worker who spoke to the Daily Observer.

A source at FedEx in Monrovia said Mr. Duncan apparently knew he was suffering from the disease and that his best chance of survival was reaching to the United States, a position that a family source denied, when we sought confirmation.

  At a visit to his residence at the 72nd Community yesterday, many people expressed shock that Mr. Duncan had been diagnosed with the disease, and wished him a speedy recovery. There were still others, particularly female friends, who worried about Mr. Duncan’s situation, due to his association with them.

  Information received further indicated that Mr. Duncan’s family in the United States are among up to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man, along with the ambulance crew who transported him to the hospital.

And while health officials scrambled to contain the infection, Texas Governor Rick Perry said at a hospital press conference on Wednesday that he had “full confidence” in Texas medical teams when it came to the safety and welfare of citizens, adding that only those who came in close contact with the patient when he was contagious were at risk.

  And whatever the case may be, Information Minister Brown called on the international community to join the fight to defeat the Ebola Virus Disease, “We can defeat the Ebola virus,” he asserted in a statement to the media on Wednesday this week.

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