Man Who Took Ebola to US Will Be ‘Prosecuted’

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It has now been established by authorities of the Liberian Government that Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who became the “first ever” Ebola case diagnosed in the US, will be prosecuted if and when he gets back to Liberia.

The Associated Press (AP) quoted Mr. Binyah Kesselly as saying that Mr. Duncan would be prosecuted because he had lied on his airport health questionnaire when he filled it at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), minutes before he flew out of Liberia on September 19.

As one of several measures put into place at the airport because of the deadly Ebola virus disease, passengers flying out of Liberia are being screened and body temperature recorded. They are also asked if they had come into contact with any Ebola patients in the last 21 days.

It was that very question—whether he had contacted an Ebola patient in the last 21 days—  according to the Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac W. Jackson, that Duncan, who is now admitted at a Texas hospital “in a stable but critical condition,” “lied” by answering “no.”

Min. Jackson further told this paper via telephone Thursday, October 2, that Duncan lied under oath and, “for that reason, he can be prosecuted.” He also stated that another reason why Duncan will be taken to court is that he violated Chapters 13 and 14 of the Public Health Law of Liberia. According to Min. Jackson, who is also an attorney, those two chapters talk about negligent conduct of putting others at risk when one is fully aware of the health risk.

About Duncan being aware of his medical condition before he left Liberia, his former boss, Mr. Henry Brunson, 60, manager of SafeWay Cargo, a licensed agent of FedEx, agreed that Duncan knew that he was infected with the virus, having directly participated in efforts to help save the life of his landlord’s daughter, who was pregnant. Mr. Brunson said Duncan was his “personal chauffeur” before he (Duncan) just “walked out” on September 4, and never saw nor heard from him again until it was reported that he had been diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the US. He stated that while he is sorry that Duncan might have passed the virus to others over the last few days, he, however, said he is glad that Duncan is in the US where he would get the best treatment to survive. “If he were in Liberia, he was going to surely die,” Mr. Brunson added sadly.   

Duncan’s landlord’s daughter, Ms. Nathaline (earlier reported as Marthaline) Williams, 19, was seven months pregnant when she died of Ebola on September 16, having been rejected at three major hospitals in and around Monrovia, including JFK Memorial Hospital, ELWA Hospital and Benson Hospital.  She was also rejected at Fredai Clinic at Police Academy Junction.

According to Duncan’s 72nd residence neighbors and Mr. Jiminez Grugbaye, taxi driver, who drove Duncan, Nathaline and her parents to all these health facilities, Duncan helped carried Nathaline when they got back home at midnight after she had been rejected at all those health facilities. “He was holding her hands; her brother held her from her back while her father held her feet as they carried her from the taxi to their apartment where she died,” 31-year-old Irene Seyou, who lives next door to Mr. Duncan’s apartment in the same building, told the Daily Observer.

Our Health Correspondent was told that Nathaline’s brother and an aunt of hers died few days ago, too, of Ebola. Her father and mother are now being isolated in the Ebola treatment unit.

Meanwhile, Grugbaye, the taxi driver, who looks healthy at the moment, said after they had been rejected at all of those health facilities, knew that something wasn’t right about his sick passenger’s illness.

“When I got home, I chlorinated my entire vehicle. I repeated it the next day before I got back in the traffic,” he stated. 

He told the Daily Observer that he felt feverish on Wednesday and visited a “German Clinic”, where he was treated and discharged few hours later the same day. He, however, said he is willing to be placed under quarantine by health officials.

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