Looting of a Health Facility in Liberia Brings New Fears About Spread of Ebola

An attack on a health care facility in Monrovia, Liberia, exemplifies how persistent the stigma against Ebola is and enhanced fears that the virus will spread.

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Over the weekend, a health care facility in Monrovia, Liberia was attacked and looted by locals. From the CNN report:

The assailants stole mattresses and equipment, he said, adding that no one was injured in the incident and the attackers were not trying to free the patients; rather, they did not want the quarantine there. The assailants were using weapons but not wielding guns..."

Last week, we wrote about the World Health Organization's grim assessment of the spread of the virus, which is said to be much worse than we already think. The attack on the facility exemplifies two crucial aspects of an epidemic that has killed over 1000 people already.

First, there is the stigma against people currently battling the Ebola virus. A spokesman for the Liberian National Police characterized the incident as "an attack from people afraid of Ebola."

Then, there is the lack of the education about the spread of the virus, which officials have pointed to as one of many reasons for the epidemic. According to the Associated Press, a number of the items taken by the looters had been soiled with blood and human waste.

All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients," the official said, adding that he now feared "the whole of West Point will be infected."

Credit: AFP

Meanwhile, rumors that foreigners and aid workers have imported the virus continue to make treating the ill and exposed all the more difficult.

With summer heat and supply disruptions now causing hunger, there are fears that people stricken with the virus will venture further out searching for food, bringing with them the potential for further exposure.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.