Quarantine measures to combat Ebola risk

Liberia has announced the quarantine of a number of communities and the closure of schools across the country, the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the measures, part of an action plan that included placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.

As of July 23, 672 deaths have been blamed on Ebola in Liberia, neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organisation figures. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.

An isolation unit for Ebola victims in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, is overrun with cases and health workers are being forced to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes, government officials said yesterday.

Protests by the local community against the construction of a new isolation unit at Elwa Hospital have ended, said Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant minister of health.

“The staff here are overwhelmed. This is a humanitarian crisis in Liberia,” Nyenswah told Reuters by telephone. “People are being given care at their homes until we can move them to the new unit.”

Nyenswah said the suspected patients were being treated by trained medical staff with full protective gear, but it would take at least 24-36 hours to build the new unit. Initial resistance to building it highlighted the fear and mistrust health workers have faced across West Africa as they battle the outbreak, which has strained the region’s weak health systems.

Dozens of local health workers have died treating patients and two Americans working for Samaritan’s Purse, a charity operating in Liberia, have been infected.


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