All hell broke loose on Saturday night when several residents of the densely populated slum community of West Point in Monrovia, broke into a quarantined center for suspected Ebola patients in the community.
The protestors looted every item they could lay their hands on at the center.
Eyewitnesses accounts say, the protestors looted items such as clothes belonging to the nurses, patients’ mattresses, beddings, cooking utensils and as well as the medications and other essential health facilities.
According to reports, at least 20 patients, who were being monitored for symptoms of the deadly Ebola disease, fled the center, and health personnel are yet to locate them up to the present.
Other narrations confirmed that blood-stained beddings looted from the center posed a serious infection risk to members of the community and all those who may come in contact with such looted items.
The protesters were reportedly unhappy that suspected Ebola patients were being brought in from other parts of Monrovia and its immediate environs to the center for treatment.
This action by Liberia health authorities reportedly prompted the rampage by the protestors, a community member told this paper late Sunday, August 17, in the township when our reporter visited the affected area.
Other reports suggested that the protesters believed the Ebola virus was a hoax (trick), and had wanted to force the quarantine center to close or be relocated out of the township of West Point.
The now vandalized center was set up recently to observe suspected Ebola patients and then transfer them to a main treatment facility if they should prove positive, an official from the Ministry of Health ans Social Welfare told the Daily Observer via mobile phone late Sunday.
It is not known if those at the center were infected with the virus. However, Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, told a news conference Sunday that everyone at that center were all suspected and none had proven to positive, despite unconfirmed reports at least two had proven positive.
Other residents say the Saturday night raid and looting spree by aggrieved community dwellers could spread the virus to the whole of West Point.
Notably, West Point is Liberia's most populated slum community, estimated to contain well over 50,000 inhabitants, among them, some aliens and foreign nationals that engage in business ventures.
The current outbreak of the Ebola in Liberia is said to be the deadliest since the disease was discovered in 1976 in East Africa.
This present epidemic began in Guinea in February this year, and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
On Friday, the death toll rose to 1,145 after the WHO said 76 new deaths had been reported in the two days to 13 August. There have been 2,127 cases reported in total.
The attack at the health facility in West Point is seen as a major setback in the government efforts to curb the outbreak.
A few days ago, Representative Solomon George of Montserrado County electoral district #7, threatened to transport four corpses of people believed to be infected with the disease in the area to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the Office of the President is located.
Political actors are therefore attributing Saturday’s looting of the center to something that might have been sanctioned by the lawmaker.
Meanwhile, other residents of the Township have in the strongest terms condemned the action which resulted in the facility being vandalized.
In a statement issued Sunday, a copy of which is in the possession of this paper, the residents termed the protestors' action as an act of ‘misguided individuals.’