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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:26 am 
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The government of Liberia has put out a press release detailing its "Operation White Shield" designed to control the spread of Ebola.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:29 am 
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MOD LAUNCHES “OPERATION WHITE SHIELD”

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MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) – The Ministry of National Defense has launched “Operation White Shield” to provide security in places targeted as Ebola-affected areas. It is an effort to fulfill the President’s declaration of the State of Emergency aimed at containing the Ebola virus, according to the Liberia News Agency.

Explaining the operation to journalists at the Ministry of Information regular weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia on Thursday, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai said it is intended to support policy decisions of the National Taskforce on Ebola.

He noted that “Operation White Shield”, which is already in progress, is divided into four taskforces based in designated areas.

He said Taskforce One is be based in Montserrado and Margibi counties to respond to any incident that requires the presence of the force, while Taskforce Two is already based in Lofa County, with its headquarters in Foya, where the Ministry of Health has built an Ebola Treatment Center.

According to the Defense Minister, some personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) will also be assigned at various border points such as Solomba and Mendicorma to ensure that there is no further entry and exit of persons or group of persons not cleared by healthcare workers.

Samukai further disclosed that the operation will also deploy men in Voinjama to support civil administration and the hospital there as well as healthcare workers and will also make its presence felt in nearby areas.

He said Taskforce Three will be posted in Bomi County where it will provide very limited movement outside of the county to identify, trace, and maintain surveillance and in some cases quarantine individuals who may have fled as a result of fear and denial.

Minister Samuka said Taskforce Four is in Grand Cape Mount County, specifically Sinje, Robertsport and Bo Waterside, to also provide support to healthcare workers in those places, making sure they perform their duties.

The Defense Minister urged politicians to avoid political interference in the operations of the military as political interference will not be tolerated by the forces at those places of assignment.

The National Defense Chief said the operation is also intended to provide security to all healthcare workers and institutions by making sure they perform their work unhindered by any person or group of persons and ensure their safety in the discharge of their duties.

According Minister Samuka, part of the mandate of the personnel of the AFL positioned in the localities earmarked is to avoid the influx of people from one place to another whether or not they are infected with the disease.

The Defense Minister said “Operation White Shield” is also intended to support quality decisions, specifically to the containment of the spread of Ebola, in areas identified by the Ministry of Health under the Public Health Law for the common good of the society.

“Our intent is to also support civil administrations in the various localities where we are assigned and to facilitate uninhibited movement of health personnel in the delivery of urgently needed services to our people,” Samukai asserted.

By Prince Nagbe &Wilfred Gortor

LINA PSN/WSG/JGT/TSS/PTK

http://micatliberia.com/index.php/ebola ... hield.html

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:39 am 
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Liberia quarantine creates 'plague villages' at Ebola epicentre

Aid workers say that if support does not arrive soon, locals in villages will disappear down jungle footpaths

Thomson Reuters

Posted:Aug 17, 2014 6:32 PM ET
Last Updated:Aug 17, 2014 6:32 PM ET
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Soldiers from the Liberian army monitor a checkpoint as part of Operation White Shield to control the Ebola outbreak. Sabrina Karim/Reuters

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Ebola clinic looted in Liberia
Liberian residents raided a quarantine centre for suspected Ebola patients, raising fears the virus could soon spread through the capital's largest slum
Watch: 3:14
To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicentre of the virus, evoking the "plague villages" of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world.

With few food and medical supplies getting in, many abandoned villagers face a stark choice: stay where they are and risk death or skip quarantine, spreading the infection further in a country ill-equipped to cope.

In Boya, in northern Liberia's Lofa County, Joseph Gbembo, who caught Ebola and survived, says he is struggling to raise 10 children under five years old and support five widows after nine members of his family were killed by the virus.

Fearful of catching Ebola themselves, the 30-year-old's neighbours refuse to speak with him and blame him for bringing the virus to the village.

"I am lonely," he said. "Nobody will talk to me and people run away from me." He says he has received no food or health care for the children and no help from government officials.

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A health worker washes with disinfectant after dealing with people suspected of having the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia. The countryhas recorded more Ebola deaths, more than 400, than any of the other affected countries. (Abbas Dulleh/Associated Press)

Aid workers say that if support does not arrive soon, locals in villages like Boya, where the undergrowth is already spreading among the houses, will simply disappear down jungle footpaths.

"If sufficient medication, food and water are not in place, the community will force their way out to fetch food and this could lead to further spread of the virus," said Tarnue Karbbar, a worker for charity Plan International based in Lofa County.

Ebola has killed at least 1,145 people in four African nations, but in the week through to August 13, Lofa county recorded more new cases than anywhere else - 124 new cases of Ebola and 60 deaths.

The World Health Organization and Liberian officials have warned that, with little access by healthcare workers to the remote areas hidden deep in rugged jungle zones, the actual toll may be far higher.

Operation 'White Shield'
In the ramshackle coastal capital Monrovia, which still bears the scars of the brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2003, officials say controlling the situation in Lofa is crucial to overcoming the country's biggest crisis since the conflict.

With her country under threat, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has imposed emergency measures including the community quarantine and a "cordon sanitaire" -- a system of medical roadblocks to prevent the infection reaching cities, widely used against the Black Death in Medieval times.

Troops have been deployed under operation "White Shield" to stop people from abandoning homes and infecting others in a country where the majority of cases remain at large, either because clinics are full or because they are scared of hospitals regarded as 'death traps'.

Ebola outbreak Nigeria
Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, including 413 in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. (Sunday Alamba/The Associated Press)

A crowd attacked a makeshift Ebola quarantine centre in Monrovia on Saturday, throwing stones and looting equipment and food, and, according to one health worker, removing patients from the building.

"There has to be concern that people in quarantined areas are left to fend for themselves," said Mike Noyes, head of humanitarian response at ActionAid UK. "Who is going to be the police officer who goes to these places? There's a risk that these places become plague villages."

Aid workers say the virus reminds them of the forces roaming Liberia during the civil war, making it a byword for brutality.

"It was like the war. It was so desolate," said Adolphus Scott, a worker for UN child agency UNICEF describing Zango Town in the jungles of northern Liberia, where most of the 2,000 residents had either died of Ebola or fled.

Elderly people sat in the doorways of their homes, gazing at a dirt street empty but for a few roaming goats and skinny chickens, he said. "Ebola is like a guerrilla army marauding the country."

Carried by fruit bats
The Ebola virus, never previously detected in poverty-racked West Africa, is carried by jungle mammals like fruit bats. It is thought to have been transmitted to the human population via bush meat as early as December in remote southeastern Guinea.

Initial symptoms like fever and muscular pains are difficult to distinguish from other tropical illnesses such as malaria, meaning the outbreak was not detected til March. By the late stages of the disease, victims are at their most contagious, bleeding from eyes and ears, with the virus pouring out of them.

Countries like Uganda in east Africa have tackled previous rural outbreaks through online reporting systems and rigorous surveillance, said Uganda's Director of Community and Clinical Services Dr. Anthony Mbonye. But in the West of the continent, weak healthcare systems were unprepared.

Liberia, one of the world's least developed nations, has poor Internet and telecommunications, and only around 50 doctors for a population of over 4 million. Traditional funerals, where family members bathe and dress highly contagious corpses, have expedited Ebola's spread to 9 of the country's 15 counties.

In recognition of the region's inability to cope, the World Health Organization this week declared Ebola an international health emergency - only the third time in its 66-year history it has taken this step.

Neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone have placed checkpoints in Gueckedou and Kenema, creating a cross-border quarantine zone of roughly 20,000 square kilometres, about the size of Wales, called the "unified sector."

Within this massive area, Information Minister Lewis Brown described more intense quarantine measures in Lofa county, ring fencing areas where up to 70 per cent of people are infected.

"Access to these hot spots is now cut off except for medical workers," he said in an interview this week.

Ebola outbreak
The Kenyan government announced over the weekend that it will bar passengers travelling from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. (Luc Gnago/Reuters)

Reaching the sick in isolated villages there is critical because the county's main Foya health centre is full. The site was run by U.S. charity Samaritan's Purse until it pulled out after two of its health workers contracted the virus in Monrovia.

Medical charity MSF, which has now stepped in, says 137 patients are packed into the 40-bed site.

Health workers hope to train locals to create isolation units in schools and churches within their own communities.

"Quarantines expose healthy people to risk - which is why the effectiveness of states is so important in supporting preventive measures that will minimize this," said Robert Dingwall, specialist in health policy responses to infectious diseases at Nottingham Trent University.

Such measures include prevention education, crematorium facilities and protective equipment, he said.

Liberia's response team can't keep up
But Liberia's response team is struggling to keep up.

The main health care centre in Lofa is "overwhelmed" by new patients, a health ministry report said. A total of 13 health care workers have already died from Ebola in the county while its surveillance office lacks computers to manage cases.

Liberia's Brown also acknowledged the risk: "We can establish as many checkpoints as we want but if we cannot get the food and the medical supplies in to affected communities, they will leave."

Even if the resources arrive, help might be chased away.

Unlike in other areas of the country, where Ebola awareness campaigns are helping to draw people out of hiding, in this isolated border region, far from the otherwise ubiquitous "Ebola is Real" government billboards, denial is still strong.

According to a local rumour, merchants dressed as health workers are taking people away in order to sell human organs, provoking violent reactions from locals, Karbarr said.

In late July, an ambulance was stoned in the Kolahun district as it tried to take a body for burial. In the same area, a group of hand pump technicians were told to leave or have their vehicle torched. The police arrested a man this week for Ebola denial.

http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/1.2739183

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:48 am 
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Patients flee attack on Ebola unit in Monrovia, Liberia, say witnesses
PUBLISHED ON AUG 17, 2014 9:25 PM 79 174 0 0

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Soldiers from the Liberian army monitor a border checkpoint as part of Operation White Shield to control the Ebola outbreak, at an entrance to Bomi County in northwestern Liberia on Aug 11, 2014. Armed men claiming that "there's no Ebola" in Liberia raided a quarantine centre for the deadly disease in Monrovia overnight, prompting at least 20 patients infected with the deadly virus to flee, a witness said on Sunday, Aug 17. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
MONROVIA, LIBERIA (AFP) - Armed men claiming that "there's no Ebola" in Liberia raided a quarantine centre for the deadly disease in Monrovia overnight, prompting at least 20 patients infected with the deadly virus to flee, a witness said Sunday.

"They broke down the door and looted the place. The patients have all gone," said Ms Rebecca Wesseh, who witnessed the attack and whose report was confirmed by residents and the head of Health Workers Association of Liberia, Mr George Williams.

Mr Williams said the unit housed 29 patients who were receiving preliminary treatment before being taken to hospital. It was unclear how many are now at large.

"They had all tested positive for Ebola," he said, adding that nine had died, without elaborating.

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/world/ ... i6r1n.dpuf

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:52 am 
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Liberia's 'white shield' reminiscent of Black Death

BY KAREN GRAHAM
10 HOURS AGO IN HEALTH
+
Monrovia, Liberia's largest slum, West Point, was the epicenter of a looting spree late Saturday when looters broke into the quarantine center, taking bloodied sheets and mattresses and sending the 30 patients into the crowd.
There is a real fear now that the dreaded Ebola virus will spread through the slum and into the capital itself. Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant health minister, said on Sunday the violence started because people were angry that people suspected of having Ebola were being brought from other parts of Monrovia to the holding center.

"All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients," the official said, adding that he now feared "the whole of West Point will be infected." One resident, Richard Kieh, said some of the items being taken were visibly stained with blood, excrement and vomit. West Point slum is home for more than 50,000 people.

Even though Liberian officials say that the West Point slum has not been put under quarantine, according to the Associated Press today, in an attempt to further control the continuing spread of Ebola, the government has taken an unusual course of action by quarantining villages at the epicenter of the virus, creating a "white shield."

This action evokes images of the "plague villages" in Medieval Europe during the time of the Black Death. Residents of these villages have no access to food or medical supplies, literally no access to the outside world. They have the choice of staying, and possible starving to death or succumbing to illness, or sneaking away from the quarantine and spreading the virus even further.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed emergency measures, including the community quarantine and a “cordon sanitaire,” a system of medical roadblocks to keep the virus contained and to stop its spread into more populated areas. Troops have been deployed under "Operation White Shield," to stop people from abandoning their homes and infecting others.
“There has to be concern that people in quarantined areas are left to fend for themselves,” said Mike Noyes, head of humanitarian response at ActionAid UK. “Who is going to be the police officer who goes to these places? There’s a risk that these places become plague villages.”

Aid workers are worried that if support doesn't arrive soon, the undergrowth that is already encroaching into the villages will eventually overtake and swallow what once were houses, turning the areas into a dense jungle again. Tarnue Karbbar, a worker for charity Plan International based in Lofa County in northern Liberia, says, “If sufficient medication, food and water are not in place, the community will force their way out to fetch food and this could lead to further spread of the virus."
Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, told reporters last week in Geneva, "We are not talking weeks; we're talking about months to get an upper hand on the epidemic." With the population uneducated in what the Ebola virus is, and what it can do, Liu said more international help is needed to "follow up on cases and educate the public about what the disease and the outbreak entails.''

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement over the weekend that their staff members "at the outbreak sites see evidence that the number of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."
World Food Program spokesman Steve Taravella, in a telephone interview with The Age said over 0ne million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are in need of food aid. Food, including cooked meals is being transported into those countries by truck. Not discussed were the logistics of how the food would get distributed once the trucks reached their destinations.
Fear is the biggest virus that needs to be contained right now. Ignorance of the disease, the scary way people end up dying, and belief in magical cures like hot water or nano-silver particles are all part of the myths surrounding the Ebola virus. Educating a population that is too frightened to listen will be the biggest task yet.


Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/heal ... z3AihiZyjo

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:11 am 
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AUGUST 18 2014 12:09h
Liberia «to shoot» people crossing border closed to halt Ebola

Liberia's armed forces were given orders to shoot people trying to illegally cross the border from neighbouring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of Ebola, local newspaper Daily Observer reported Monday.
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Soldiers stationed in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties, which border Sierra Leone, were to "shoot on sight" any person trying to cross the border, said deputy chief of staff, Colonel Eric Dennis. The order comes after border officials reported people continued to cross the porous border illegally. Grand Cape Mount county had 35 known "illegal entry points," according to immigration commander Colonel Samuel Mulbah. Illegal crossings were a major health threat, said Mulbah, "because we don't know the health status of those who cross at night." Liberia closed its borders with Sierra Leone weeks ago in an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 1,100 people in West Africa.

The announcement came after residents of a slum near the capital broke into an isolation centre and freed up to 30 Ebola patients, local newspaper Front Page Africa reported. "As I speak the police station is deserted. There is no security now in West Point," resident Moses Teah was quoted as saying. The break-in to protest poor conditions at Ebola quarantine centres has raised fears that the deadly virus will spread in the slum. "I saw sick people being taken out of the Ebola Centre. Some took them home to care for them," said Teah. Other residents, who reportedly continue to deny the existence of Ebola, looted the quarantine centre, stealing patients' mattresses, blood-stained bedding, cooking utensils and medication, according to media reports.

Some Liberians believe the Ebola outbreak was a ploy by government to secure foreign aid, the Daily Observer reported. Liberians also criticize government for not providing sufficient services to Ebola patients, including health care, food and safe burials.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a "massive scaling up of the international response" is necessary to get the outbreak under control. By August 15, 2,127 cases and 1,145 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In Liberia, there were 786 suspected and confirmed cases, according to the WHO, of which 413 people died.

The current outbreak is caused by the most lethal strain in the family of Ebola viruses. Ebola causes massive haemorrhages and has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. It is transmitted through contact with blood and other body fluids.

http://dalje.com/en-world/liberia-to-sh ... ola/518767

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