DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We are turning now to Liberia. This is one of the countries that has been overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak. The country has been seeing the highest number of new cases of the virus, and it's had more deaths than any other country. Late last night, Liberia's President announced a 9 p.m. curfew in the capital, Monrovia, and also quarantined that city's West Point neighborhood. This comes after an attack there over the weekend that targeted a holding center for people showing symptoms of Ebola. We're turning for the latest now to NPR's Nurith Aizenman who's in Monrovia. Nurith, good morning.
NURITH AIZENMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, David.
GREENE: We want to be clear here, this neighborhood we're talking about, West Point, this is the neighborhood where we heard about--earlier this week on the program--an Ebola holding center where patients were literally being dragged out by people in this raid, right?
AIZENMAN: Yes, and that is exactly the reason that officials are telling me that they have imposed the quarantine on this neighborhood. Now how it's going to play out right now is unclear. This was announced late last night. I talked to Liberia's information minister this morning and he told me that the quarantine is already completely in place, that security forces are mobilized, absolutely no one will be allowed in or out. And he said that they're going to keep it up for at least 21 days. Now I talked to several people who live in West Point this morning as well, and some of them said people were allowed to leave, mostly those who go into other parts of the city every morning to sell things on the street. But as of right now, security forces have moved in. And the route into West Point is sealed off. And in fact it appears that they're even preventing people from entering the parts of the neighboring commercial center of Monrovia. So there's still a lot of confusion about how this is going to work in practice.
GREENE: I'm thinking that 21 days is probably because that's the period of time when you have to wait to see if Ebola symptoms develop. And we're talking about a neighborhood here with tens of thousands of people, as you said, and cordoning it off, and sealing it off, for three weeks, this sounds nearly impossible.
AIZENMAN: Yeah, and it's helpful to understand that West Point is separate from the rest of the city. I went to West Point yesterday, and it's incredibly dense. It's just a thicket of one-story homes built with plywood or cement block with corrugated, metal roofs, and they're packed so tightly together that in order to get in to some of the houses you have to walk through another house. They're literally isn't even enough room for a pathway between the houses. And there are only two roads in and two roads out. So it is conceivable that the police could block those off. That said it is surrounded by water, on one side, the Atlantic Ocean. Fishing is a major source of income so people go out by boat all the time. And while the government is telling me they're not worried about how they would prevent that from happening, it remains to be seen how feasible that's going to be.
GREENE: Well, Nurith, as we said, this is the neighborhood where this Ebola center was that was raided, you know, patients were taken out of this place. Does anyone know where these patients have gone since then?
AIZENMAN: Well, there were 17 of them there at the time the center was raided. Officials tell me that after several days of searching they have now located all of them. And they've been taken to a new Ebola care center that opened this week in a hospital in the capital.
GREENE: Presumably a place that would offer better care than this center was offering. It sounded like a, you know, a pretty rough place.
AIZENMAN: Yeah. No care was offered at the West Point center. It was just a holding facility to isolate people, really. In fact, there were some people who left that holding facility even before it was attacked. And I'm working with NPR photographer David Gilkey out here. Yesterday he was in West Point as well and he came across a boy, a young child who was one of those who had left the center before the attack. He found this boy lying naked on the beach. Some residents pulled him into an alley and dressed him, but no one wanted to take him in and touch him further.
GREENE: Yeah. I was looking at that photo on our website before we spoke. I mean, this is a young boy just lying in the sand looking really, I mean - it's awful - looking anguished.
AIZENMAN: Yeah. It's a very disturbing picture. And it really crystallizes the desperation here. We did hear later in the day that this boy was also taken to that same care center at the city hospital.
GREENE: This is the new center. And hopefully he'll get care there. And we'll hope for the best for him. We've been talking to NPR's global health and development correspondent Nurith Aizenman, speaking to us from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Nurith, thank you.
AIZENMAN: You're welcome.
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