Via FrontPageAmerica: West Point Runs Amok: Why Was Ebola Isolation Unit Ransacked. Excerpt:
Monrovia - The scene in the West Point area Liberia’s biggest slum community was one of disbelief as some residents still grappling to come to terms of the events of late Saturday afternoon when some residents of the community stormed and looted an isolated center where suspected Ebola patients were being held.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that on Saturday the scene was one of chaos as residents ran amok as others set up roadblocks as news spread that the ministry of health was moving another Ebola patient into the center. But it turned out that it was food and mattresses that were being brought in to the sick that have been isolated from the rest of the world.
But this move by the ministry caused some tension and others saw it as an opportunity to cause chaos. Stones began to fly according to eyewitnesses; one vehicle belonging to the Liberia National Police, which was providing backup, was hit and the LNP was forced to retreat.
As the police retreated the area became vulnerable, according to eyewitnesses and the looters set in and started to bring out the patients, rice, mattresses, blankets, not even afraid to touch the sick.
"I saw sick people being taken out of the Ebola Center by West Pointers. They were actually holding them; some took them home to care for them,” Moses Teah a resident of the area told FrontPageAfrica in utter disbelief on Sunday morning. “As I speak the police station is deserted, there is no security now in West Point. I said to myself what a place. West Point people really shocked me yesterday."
Sources say seventeen (17) suspected and some confirmed Ebola patients escaped the isolation center, but the Health Ministry at a news conference in Monrovia told journalists that the center was home to close to 30 patients who were under supervision as they were showing signs of the disease but had not been confirmed of the deadly Ebola virus.
“We did open something we describe as a holding unit; this is a concept that came about because of the outflow of patients in the community and so the commissioner noticed that people were buried secretly in the West Point Area,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant minister for health.
“Let it be known that the patients that were in there were suspects because of the presentation of signs and symptoms of the disease. We also know that there is a thin line between the signs and symptoms of Ebola and the signs and symptoms of other diseases like Malaria, Typhoid, diarrhea and the rest of them.”
He said some of the residents of the area looted the place because they saw health workers taking relief items into the Isolation center that had been set up in a Monrovia Consolidated School System MCSS school in the area. He confirmed reports that the patients had escaped the area, leaving the facility empty.
“When the community saw we were carrying supplies, food and beddings for those people, some young people got agitated and jumped in the area and scared away those patients there,” he said. “Those people the bulk of them, close to 80 to 90 percent live in that community- from West Point. So, they have moved back to the houses that they came from.”
Nyenswah said the ministry was asked by the commissioner of West Point to set up the holding facility because the area was becoming notorious to a secret burial of people who were dying of unknown causes.
“They were burying people behind a river called devil island and so since people were buried secretly, the commissioner thought it wise to come in at the ministry of health so that we discuss how to respond to the situation in the West Point Area, so that it didn’t blow into a full-scale Ebola outbreak in that area,” he said.