The Ebola-related death toll among soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has reportedly risen to nine, a highly placed source has hinted to the Daily Observer.
Following the death of the soldiers, and for fear of the further spread of Ebola in the army, regular daily training, a core activity of the military, has been suspended indefinitely.
“We no longer train, neither do we receive visitors, nor are we allowed to visit outside of the barracks,” a solider lamented when the Daily Observer toured the Kesselly Barracks over the weekend.
This latest evidence of the spread of Ebola within the AFL has caused soldiers at the Edward Binyan Kesseley (EBK) Barracks in Lower Margibi County to fear that if nothing is done in the shortest possible time to contain the Ebola menace, the less than 2000 soldiers would gradually become extinct.
Up to press time, it was reported that at least nine of the soldiers, the latest being identified as Private First Class (Pfc) Kolako, died last Wednesday in Monrovia as a result of the EVD.
Most of the deceased soldiers, according to our source, had resided at the EBK, the home of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, located on the Monrovia/Robertsfield Highway.
In the space of two weeks, several other soldiers died from the EVD. They were identified as Private (PVT) Calvin Sackie, Corporals (Cpls) Florson Louise, Fanbiman Samuel, and Private First Class (Pfc) Anthony Sheriff. Others are Sergeant (Sgt) Kromah, who was assigned as the AFL medic, and another medic from the Ministry of National Defense (MOD) identified as Annitta Sackie.
The deceased, according to our source, contracted Ebola a few weeks ago at EBK Barracks when a lady suspected of carrying the disease, visited one of the victims, Cpl Floson Louise.
The ‘concubine’ who visited the late soldier has already died from the disease. She is yet to be identified. One of the soldiers with whom she passed the night at EBK contracted the disease, and did not survive despite intensive treatment at several Ebola Treatment Units (ETIs) in Monrovia,” our source alleged.
Since the remaking of the AFL under the theme, “A Force for Good” in 2006, it has been beset by a series of problems including attrition and or expulsion owing to “unprofessional and unmethodical behavior” exhibited by some.
This latest setback among the rank and file of the already sparse number of soldiers has reportedly created panic, to the extent that the frightened soldiers have been quarantined.
"Right now, some of the soldiers have begun to desert the various barracks across the country following the outbreak,” a source claimed.
Authorities at the Ministry of National Defense are yet to speak to the public about the death of the soldiers, but this newspaper has reliably learnt that family members of the fallen soldiers are being notified by the MOD.
David K. Dahn, Assistant Minister for Public Affairs at the MOD told the Daily Observer that measures have been taken to decongest the soldiers in the barracks.
The latest deaths in the AFL have added to several Para-military and other security personnel, including officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) that have been killed by the Ebola virus.