17 Ebola patients escape after attack on quarantine center in Liberia

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Seventeen patients positively diagnosed with Ebola escaped from a quarantine center in Liberia’s capital Monrovia on August 16, health officials from the West African country said.

The incident occurred in Monrovia’s West Point slums, in an isolation center converted from a local high school. An angry mob of youths armed with clubs attacked the center, saying that Ebola was a hoax and demanding the quarantine center be shut down.

Seventeen out of the 29 patients housed in the center escaped from the facility and have not yet been found. There are mixed reports regarding the whereabouts of the other patients. George Williams of the Health Workers Association of Liberia told reporters that nine had died the day before the attack, and three had been taken home by force by their relatives. However, a Buzzfeed reporter told BBC that 10 patients had been freed by their relatives before the riot.

In addition to freeing infected individuals, attackers also looted blood- and vomit-stained mattresses, medicine and other medical equipment used by patients in the quarantine center.

According to the BBC, a senior police officer was quoted as saying that it was “one of the stupidest things he has ever seen in his life.” Adding, “All between you could see people fleeing with items looted from patients.”

Health officials fear that the stolen contaminated items could further spread the virus in West Point, which has a population of 50,000.


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