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Liberia To Prosecute People Hiding Ebola Patients

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issued a stern statement Monday, warning citizens that anyone who will be caught hiding Ebola patients from authorized health workers will be prosecuted in accordance to Liberian law.

The statement was issued on a state-owned radio program in Liberia, according to Al Jazeera. President Sirleaf noted that a huge number of Ebola patients are being kept inside houses or church buildings, instead of receiving proper medical treatment inside medical facilities.

“Let this warning go out: Anyone found or reported to be holding suspected Ebola cases in homes or prayer houses can be prosecuted under the law of Liberia.”

The problem has also been observed in Guinea, where there had been reports of Ebola patients discharging themselves from hospitals and going into hiding.

Doctors Without Borders have sent 300 medical professionals in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leonne to curb the rapid spread of Ebola in West Africa. The recent outbreak has been described as one of the worst in years. The virus has claimed 367 people in the region. while 635 are reported to be currently suffering from the disease, according to latest World Health Organization data. Guinea, which is situated above Sierra Leone and Liberia, has the most cases in West Africa. Despite employing hundreds of health workers and bringing in 40 tons worth of hospital equipment, Doctors Without Borders admitted last week that the Ebola situation in the region has gone “out of control”. A representative said:

“Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites.”

World Health Organization expressed similar concerns last Thursday after they sent a team of experts to assess the situation in West Africa. One representative remarked that “drastic actions are needed” to solve the deadly Ebola outbreak in the region. According to CNN, the lack of medical equipment, combined with the negative reception of local residents to foreign and local health workers are complicating the fight against Ebola. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who recently visited Guinea to check on the current efforts, described the dire situation in the afflicted areas of the region.

“It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here. There is a lot we know about Ebola, and it scares us almost as much as what we don’t know.”

[Image from European Commission DG via Flickr]