Liberian soldiers have set up a blockade stopping people from western regions affected by the Ebola outbreak from entering the capital, Monrovia.
It follows the president’s declaration of a state of emergency to tackle the outbreak that has killed more than 930 people in West Africa this year. In Sierra Leone the security forces have now imposed a complete blockade of eastern areas hit by Ebola.
Health experts in Switzerland are discussing a response to the outbreak. It is the world’s deadliest outbreak and the two-day World Health Organisation meeting will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.
Ebola, a viral haemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, with a fatality rate in this outbreak of between 50 per cent and 60 per cent.
It is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola patients showing symptoms. Already reports are reaching Monrovia that a military blockade is stopping people from western regions of Grand Cape Mount and Bomi, where Ebola is prevalent, from entering the capital.
These counties largely rely on Monrovia for their goods – and the blockade means that the cities of Robertsport and Tubmanburg are now cut off.
One Tubmanburg resident phoned into a radio show to complain that rice, the national staple, was already in short supply in the market.
The head of the National Health Workers Association said while the state of emergency was necessary, people should have been given time to prepare. Fear has prompted hospital workers to abandon clinics – meaning many are now shut.
President Sirleaf said this meant many diseases prevalent during the rainy season, such as malaria and typhoid, were going untreated and there could be unnecessary and preventable deaths as a result. BBC