Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Unrest grows in slum sealed off to halt Ebola

Published:Thursday | August 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Residents from an area close to the West Point Ebola centre protest as they are not allowed to enter the area leading to their homes, after Liberia security forces blocked roads, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, yesterday. AP photos
Liberia security forces block a road near the West Point Ebola centre as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, yesterday.
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MONROVIA (AP):

Liberian security forces sealed off a seaside slum in the capital yesterday in the latest effort to stop the spread of Ebola, setting off protests by angry residents.

A resident of the West Point district said by phone that security forces were firing into the air to disperse crowds angry over the quarantine measures.

People could be seen gathering at roadblocks just outside the West Point area to complain that they had been cut off from their homes. The restrictions made it difficult to get a full picture of what was happening in the sealed-off neighbourhood.

Fear and tension have been building in Monrovia for days and West Point has been one of the flashpoints. Many residents feel the government has not done enough to protect them from the spread of Ebola.

West Point residents raided an Ebola screening centre over the weekend, accusing officials of bringing sick people from all over Monrovia into their neighbourhood. In many areas of the capital, meanwhile, dead bodies have lain in the streets for hours, sometimes days, even though residents asked that the corpses be picked up by Health Ministry workers wearing protective gear.

At least 1,229 dead

The Ebola outbreak, which began in December, has killed at least 1,229 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

Liberia has the highest death toll, and its number of cases is rising the fastest. In response, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered West Point sealed off and imposed a night-time curfew, saying authorities have not been able to curtail the spread of Ebola in the face of defiance of their recommendations.

Sirleaf also ordered gathering places like movie theatres and nightclubs shut and put Dolo Town, 30 miles (50 kilometres) south of the capital, under quarantine as well.

"These measures are meant to save lives," she said in an address Tuesday night.

Yesterday, riot police and soldiers created roadblocks out of piles of scrap wood and barbed wire to prevent anyone from entering or leaving West Point, which occupies a peninsula where the Mesurado River meets the Atlantic Ocean.