People pass by Ebola virus health warning signs, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (Abbas Dulleh / AP)
Monrovia, Liberia— Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through the capital’s largest slum after residents raided a quarantine center for suspected patients and took items including bloody sheets and mattresses.
The violence in the West Point slum occurred late Saturday and was led by residents angry that patients were brought to the holding center from other parts of Monrovia, Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister, said Sunday.
Up to 30 patients were staying at the center and many of them fled at the time of the raid, said Nyenswah. Once they are located they will be transferred to the Ebola center at Monrovia’s largest hospital, he said.
West Point residents went on a “looting spree,” stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press.
The incident creates a new challenge for Liberian health officials who were already struggling to contain the outbreak. Liberian police restored order to the West Point neighborhood Sunday.
Ebola has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, including 413 in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization.