MONROVIA, Liberia — In response to the Ebola threat in Liberia, the government has recently decided to close off numerous border points.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that all schools will be closed in the meantime and some cities will be thoroughly quarantined. The few border points that remain open have testing centers and will implement preventative measures.
In addition to the efforts to conceal the virus, Liberia is also sending potential victims away from the area. Non-essential government workers have been sent home for a minimum of 30 days and informational videos are required to play in all restaurants, markets and other public institutions.
The Peace Corps has also decided to remove 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Guinea due to the immense risk of contracting the virus. Two volunteers were exposed to symptoms of a victim who died from the virus, and are now in isolation until they receive medical clearance.
All other volunteers are under medical monitoring.
Although this is not the first time the world has seen the Ebola virus, this is by far the deadliest outbreak in history. The number of people killed by this virus in West Africa has now reached over 670 victims, as reported by the United Nations.
Sirleaf reported that treatment centers in the capital of Monrovia have become heavily overwhelmed.
Ebola kills up to 90 percent of those infected. The virus is contracted through the contact of an infected person’s bodily fluids including blood, sweat and urine. Although the virus was first recorded in Guinea in February, it quickly spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia and continues to escalate.
The World Health Organization reported that there are over 1,200 recorded cases in these three countries thus far.
There have been many obstacles in the containment of this virus, and one of the most difficult is that of denial. Many communities in smaller and more rural villages have resisted medical attention from organizations such as Doctors Without Borders because they do not want to accept that the disease plaguing their loved ones isEbola.
Liberian Minister Lewis Brown said that this fear is because the extremely high fatality rates are no secret among the West African nations.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are desperate for as many resources and as much help as they can get. However, experts are concerned that the situation will surely worsen before it improves.
“There are many places where people are infected, but we don’t know about,” said Bart Janssens, the director of Doctors Without Borders.
Janssens stressed the underestimation of the current facts and figures.
Since the symptoms of the virus can take up to 21 days to show, officials worry that there is potential for the virus to spread to other nations. To make matters worse, Ebola symptoms mirror many other ailments. Major symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue and vomiting.
It would be easy to mistake a case of Ebola for that of Malaria or even the common flu. However, once symptoms escalate, they include diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function and can lead to internal bleeding.
The Liberian government is setting aside August 1 as a day of decontamination and sanitation, meaning no work or entertainment in public places. Funerals are also discouraged, and cremations are becoming more popular to decrease the spread.
Fear of the virus spreading is increasing on an international scale. The United States and the United Kingdom are becoming very wary of the issue.
The American government is considering sending warnings to travelers against ‘non-essential’ travel to West Africa.
– Cambria Arvizo