Patients flee attack on Ebola unit in Monrovia, Liberia, say witnesses

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 Lib
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.

Ms Wesseh said she heard the assailants shouting that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf "is broke", adding: "She wants money. There's no Ebola" in Liberia.

Ms Wesseh said the mostly young men armed with clubs broke into the isolation unit set up in a highschool in a Monrovia suburb.

Nurses also fled the attack, Ms Wesseh said.

The Ebola outbreak, the worst since the virus first appeared in 1976, has claimed 1,145 lives in five months, according to the UN World Health Organisation's latest figures as of August 13: 413 in Liberia, 380 in Guinea, 348 in Sierra Leone and four in Nigeria.

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