MONROVIA: Liberia said Tuesday it had found 17 Ebola patients who had fled an attack on their clinic, sparking a panicked manhunt across its capital, which is in the throes of a seemingly unstoppable epidemic.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the tropical virus had killed 84 people in just three days, a surge that has pushed the overall death toll from the West African outbreak to 1,229.
Liberia’s Information Minister Lewis Brown announced the return of the missing infected patients, who had fled a medical facility in a Monrovia slum Saturday after it was attacked by club-wielding youths.
Their disappearance had raised fears of a nightmare scenario of people with the highly contagious disease wandering the city where unburied corpses have lain abandoned in the streets.
“All 17 patients who fled the Ebola center have been accounted for,” Brown told AFP.
The U.N. health agency has counted 2,240 cases of confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola infection, making it the deadliest outbreak ever.
Efforts to contain the epidemic have run up against local distrust of outside doctors, and stories of aid workers carrying the infection.
Such fears have often led to violence, with a raid on the medical facility in Monrovia’s West Point slum Saturday the most dramatic example.
Wild rumors of cannibalism and people being drained of their blood in Ebola clinics have fueled panic, with health workers saying the testimony of survivors was crucial to proving myths wrong.
Medical authorities in Spain said Tuesday a man with fever who had returned from Sierra Leone had been placed in an isolation ward, while two Nigerian men are being monitored in a hospital in Vocklabruck in central Austria.