As health officials scramble to determine the number of people who may have had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man currently being treated for Ebola in Dallas, Texas, Liberian officials have taken the aggressive step of announcing that they plan to prosecute Duncan. The government alleges that Duncan lied about having come into contact with someone affected by Ebola during an airport screening in Liberia.
The details of Duncan's case remain in dispute. Duncan, who became sick a few days after arriving in the United States, claims that he helped a woman to a taxi whom he thought had a pregnancy-related illness. The woman, as the AP reported, was said to have later died of the Ebola virus. Duncan passed a screening at the airport in Monrovia without showing a fever and boarded his flight to the United States.
Responding to the controversy on Thursday, Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the board of directors of the Liberia Airport Authority, declared that Duncan "will be prosecuted" when he returns home.
As West African countries battle the largest Ebola outbreak on record, the notion of pursing criminal charges against a man who claims he wasn't exposed to the virus may come off as wasteful, if not extreme. Given that thousands of people continue to move between the borders of West African countries, Liberia's intention to prosecute Duncan for traveling to the United States with Ebola—unwittingly or not—also rings a little hypocritical.