World | Health

Photographer Recalls How Ebola Patients Were Carried Off In Liberia

NPR | Aug. 18, 2014 1:28 p.m.

Contributed By:

Krishnadev Calamur

A family (center) leaves an Ebola isolation center after a mob forced open the gates of the facility in the West Point slum on Saturday in Monrovia, Liberia.

A family (center) leaves an Ebola isolation center after a mob forced open the gates of the facility in the West Point slum on Saturday in Monrovia, Liberia.

Getty Images, John Moore

We told you over the weekend about protesters in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, who on Saturday attacked and looted a quarantine center holding Ebola patients, forcing at least 20 patients to leave the facility.

John Moore, a senior staff photographer for Getty Images, was at the scene and told NPR’s Kelly McEvers that the day began with a Liberian health ministry burial team that had come to collect four bodies of people who had died overnight. But the team, he says, was turned back by the families and the local community.

“The crowd was exuberant, having won this battle in their minds,” he says. “And then they marched on the isolation ward and pushed through the door and basically pulled out the patients. Members of this mob literally pulled people out of the isolation ward. I saw a man carrying a small girl by one arm up in the air and she was screaming, and the crowd carried them off.”

Part of the problem, Moore says, is that there’s “a fair number of people … who believe that the Ebola virus and the epidemic is a hoax, that it’s not real after all, and it’s a way for the Liberian government to bring in foreign money.”

It’s unclear what has happened to the patients: The BBC quoted a senior health official as saying they had all been moved to another facility; but a reporter told the BBC that some of the patients were taken away by their families. More than 1,100 people have died from the virus in West Africa since February. The death toll from the virus in Liberia is more than 400.

In other Ebola-related news:

Nigeria’s Health Ministry said it had 12 confirmed cases of the Ebola virus, up from 10 last week. Reuters quoted the ministry as saying five of those with the virus have nearly recovered.

The United Arab Emirates is holding six people, including five medics, in isolation pending tests for Ebola. The Associated Press notes: “The medics treated a woman who became ill at Abu Dhabi’s airport and later died. The sixth person is the woman’s husband. The couple was traveling from Nigeria to India where the woman was scheduled for cancer treatment.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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