Ebola outbreak: Police in Liberia open fire on crowd trying to break virus quarantine
Overall death toll from the outbreak has reached 1,350 from a total of 2,473 cases
Police in the Liberian capital fired live rounds and tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break an Ebola quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood, as the death toll from the epidemic in West Africa hit 1,350.
In the sprawling oceanfront West Point neighbourhood of Monrovia, at least four people were injured in clashes with security forces, witnesses said. It was unclear whether anyone was wounded by the gunfire, though a Reuters photographer saw a young boy with his leg largely severed just above the ankle.
Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease.
“The soldiers are using live rounds,” said army spokesman Dessaline Allison, adding: “The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens. There will be medical reports if (an injury) was from bullet wounds.”
The World Health Organisation said that the countries hit by the worst ever outbreak of the deadly virus were beginning to suffer shortages of fuel, food and basic supplies after shipping companies and airlines suspended services to the region.
The epidemic of the hemorrhagic fever, which can kill up to 90 per cent of those it infects, is ravaging the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy and most populous country.
Liberia - where the death toll is rising fastest - said its Ministry of Health warehouse had run out of rubber boots and bottles of hand sanitiser, essential for preventing the spread of the disease.
A doctor prepares an Ebola blood sample for analysis Still struggling to recover from a devastating 1989-2003 civil war, Liberia recorded 95 deaths in the two days to 18 August, the World Health Organisation said. Since it was discovered in remote southeastern Guinea in March, the overall death toll from the outbreak has reached 1,350 from a total of 2,473 cases.
Witnesses said the clashes in West Point started after security forces early on Wednesday blocked roads to the neighbourhood with tables, chairs and barbed wire. Security forces also came in to escort the local commissioner out of the neighbourhood, they said.
Attempts to isolate the worst affected areas of the country and neighbouring Sierra Leone have raised fears of unrest in one of the world's poorest regions should communities start to run low on food and medical supplies.
“I don't have any food and we're scared,” said Alpha Barry, a resident of West Point who said he came from Guinea and has four children under age 13.
Locals watch public health advocates stage street performances at an Ebola awareness and prevention event in Monrovia In an effort to calm tensions, authorities on Wednesday started delivering tonnes of rice, oil and essential foodstuffs to West Point, residents and a government official said.
The World Food Programme has begun emergency food shipments to quarantined zones where a million people may be at risk of shortages. The WHO has appealed to companies and international organisations to continue providing supplies and services to countries at risk, saying there was a low risk of contagion.
The Ebola outbreak is putting off thousands of tourists who had planned trips to Africa this year, especially Asians, including to destinations thousands of miles from the nearest infected community such as Kenya and South Africa.
Containing the outbreak requires large numbers of specialist staff to map the epidemic, track people who have had contact with sufferers, and to work in isolation and treatment centres.
The WHO has pledged to massively scale up the international response, but so far there has been only a trickle of additional foreign healthcare workers to affected nations.
“The fear factor is high,” Francis Kasolo, the coordinator of a WHO sub-regional Ebola outbreak coordination centre told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We try and try. It is an ongoing process. The offer is not large. And they have to be the right profile of person.”
A Liberian health worker speaks with families in a classroom now used as an Ebola isolation ward West Point residents said they were given no warning of the blockade, which prevented them from getting to work or buying food. Many people in impoverished parts of Monrovia buy food to eat each day rather than stocking it.
Residents also said the closure immediately caused prices of basic goods, including drinking water sold in sachets, to soar.
“We just saw it (the blockade) this morning. We came out and we couldn't go anywhere. I haven't heard from anybody in authority what happened,” Barry, 45, who works as a money changer, told Reuters.
The task authorities face is made harder by misinformation. One West Point resident told Reuters the government had sealed off the neighbourhood in order to bring the disease in.
A crowd at West Point looted a temporary holding centre for suspected Ebola cases at the weekend, 17 of whom fled. All 17 were now accounted for and being treated, and the government has abandoned plans for the centre due to fierce resistance.
Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo has sent its health minister and a team of experts to the remote Equateur province after several people died there from a disease with Ebola-like symptoms, a local official and a professor said.
It was not immediately clear if there was any connection with Ebola.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Cyclist in Russia narrowly misses being hit by car and lorry
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 What are your fingerprint words?
- 5 Gary Lineker involved in Twitter row after presenter rubbishes claims he will be warned by BBC over foul-mouthed tweets
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...