According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the first cases of Ebola began to appear in the Liberian capital of Monrovia in mid-June. The WHO and other organizations tried to quickly train local hospitals to contain the outbreak, but Monrovia’s limited healthcare infrastructure was soon overrun with Ebola patients. The city is now one of the worst-hit by the largest Ebola outbreak seen in human history.
One incident that occurred back in August helps to highlight just how the situation became so serious in Monrovia. On August 17 an angry mob in Monrovia’s West Point township attacked a quarantine center where Ebola patients were being housed. According to a BBC report, 17 Ebola patients escaped during the riot and 10 others were taken away by their families. An AFP reporter cited in the BBC report stated that the mob broke down the facility’s door and began looting. Mattresses and bedding stained with blood were stolen.
The incident demonstrates how the Ebola situation in Monrovia spun out of control. At the time of the incident the Liberian Ministry of Health & Social Welfare told the BBC that the mob had been angry that Ebola patients were being brought to Monrovia from other parts of the country. However, the BBC also cites reports that the mob believed Ebola to be a hoax and had been shouting “there’s no Ebola.”
This lack of education about Ebola and how it is spread has allowed the disease to cripple Monrovia. The battle against Ebola now includes posters and t-shirts seen throughout the city stating that “Ebola is real.”
Liberia alone has now seen more than 2,600 confirmed deaths from Ebola. According to the WHO the true number of Ebola deaths in Liberia is unlikely to ever be known, as bodies in Monrovia’s poorest district are now being thrown into rivers. But as serious as the outbreak is, the WHO believes that a recently-opened Ebola treatment center with 120 beds could help stem the tide in Monrovia. A candidate Ebola vaccine is also on the verge of clinical trials.
Dr Kieny: #Ebola vaccine [once clinical trials are completed] is expected to be use in West Africa early 2015
— WHO (@WHO) October 21, 2014