Liberian Ebola clinic attacked by mob, 29 patients have fled

An armed gang of men attacked an Ebola isolation center.

They are angry that the government opened the quarantine center in their neighborhood. Some refuse to believe that there is an Ebola outbreak or that the virus is a threat to residents.

The news came as Kenya closed its borders to travelers from the west African countries affected by the recent Ebola outbreak.

At the same time, the World Health Organization says that “staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”

Symptoms of Ebola, by Mikael Häggström.

Symptoms of Ebola, by Mikael Häggström.

The group of men was armed with clubs, some are reported to have had guns. They broke into the clinic and trashed it. Some of them reportedly stole supplies and equipment.

Among the stolen items were blood-stained mattresses and sheets. Officials are afraid that these items could spread Ebola. Several of the clinic patients fled the clinic during the attack and have not been found.

Also, during the attack, some relatives of a few of the quarantined patients stormed in and abducted their family members. Police were called to chase off the gang. About 29 patients who may be infected with Ebola are unaccounted for and have presumably fled.

Previous to this attack, another group had attacked a party of men who were out to bury Ebola victims. Police arrived and shots were fired to disburse the group interfering with the burial team.

These aren’t the first incidents in the area. Over the past few weeks there have been protests and shouting matches, and rocks have been thrown at healthcare workers. A group of rioters were chased away from a hospital. Some clinics were also attacked.

Some residents in the area do not want Ebola patients or corpses anywhere in their vicinity. While others think that healthcare workers are deliberately spreading Ebola among those that they are treating.

Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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