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Liberia 'losing grip on Ebola' as hunt for patients goes on

Searches of the teeming West Point slum have so far failed to turn up any of the missing victims as neighbouring Guinea said a wave of sick Liberians had begun crossing the border, which it had officially closed 10 days ago.

Club-wielding youths raided a medical facility set up in a high school in the dense-populated Monrovia slum on Saturday, some shouting "there's no Ebola", echoing wild rumours that the epidemic had been made up by the West.

Officials are considering sealing off the area -- home to 75,000 people -- to stop the nightmare scenario of people with the highly contagious disease wandering the city where unburied corpses have lain abandoned in the streets.

Information Minister Lewis Brown said: "All those hooligans who looted the centre are now probable carriers of the disease.... They took mattresses and bedding that were soaked with fluids from the patients. To quarantine the area could be one of the solutions.

"We run the risk of facing a difficult-to-control situation," he warned.

Community leaders, however, said the patients have long gone.

Wilmont Johnson, head of a youth association in West Point which organised a search for the patients, told journalists Monday that "those who saw them passing told us that they have gone into other communities".

The head of the Health Workers Association of Liberia, George Williams, said of the 29 patients in the raided unit "all had tested positive for Ebola" and were receiving preliminary treatment before being taken to hospital.

Fallah Boima, whose son Michel was among the patients who fled, told AFP: "I am afraid that he could die somewhere and I will not know."

Outside the capital in Caldwell, relatives of the dead criticised the government for the slowness of its response, claiming that bodies were being left uncollected there for days.

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 NewLink Genetics says it's ready to test possible Ebola vaccine in humans 
Health workers with buckets, as part of their Ebola virus prevention protective gear, at an Ebola treatment center in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 18

(AP)

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