Liberia Closes Borders To Halt Spread Of Ebola Virus

Liberia closed most of its border crossings and introduced restrictive health measures to halt the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed at least 660 people across the region. The new measures were introduced Sunday and come as Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone struggle to contain the worst outbreak of Ebola in known history.

Al Jazeera reports that Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stated of the decision, “All borders of Libya will be closed with the exception of major entry points. t these entry points, preventive and testing centers will be established, and stringent preventive measures to be announced will be scrupulously adhered to.”

The government of Liberia is doing everything it can to fight the deadly virus, including inspecting and testing all incoming and outgoing airline passengers.

Ebola is highly contagious, especially in its late stages. It can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, though this outbreak is around 60 percent. The outbreak has placed a big strain on the African countries, which are some of the poorest nations in the world.

Reuters notes that, along with closing its borders, Liberia’s new measures to combat Ebola also restrict public gatherings like marches, demonstrations, and promotional advertisements. President Sirleaf stated, “No doubt, the Ebola virus is a national health problem. And as we have also begun to see, it attacks our way of life, with serious economic and social consequences.”

Despite all of their efforts to quell the disease, the rate of infection continues to rise. Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos saw its first confirmed case of the disease in a man who died Friday after testing positive. A 33-year-old American doctor working for the Samaritan’s Purse relief organization in Liberia tested positive for the virus Saturday.

The charity said Sunday that a second American helping a team treating Ebola patients in Monrovia also tested positive. Meanwhile, Samuel Brisbane, a senior Liberian doctor who was also treating patients, died after contracting the virus.

Should the new measures not stop the spread of the virus, the Wall Street Journal notes that the Liberian president could start quarantining neighborhoods in Liberian cities. Still, the moves proposed could be difficult to enforce in a country where even many government workers don’t understand how serious the virus can be. Local pastors and medicine makers have all claimed they have the power to cure Ebola, which has helped facilitate the spread of the disease.

Liberian officials hope that the rising death toll has started to persuade Liberians otherwise. Ebola is not airborne like the flu. It spreads easily through contact with blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of an infected person — or on their deceased bodies. Time will tell if Liberia’s decision to close its borders can help stop the spread of Ebola.

[Image by _boris]