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Liberia reopens slum barricaded to fight Ebola

By Jonathan Paye-Layleh

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30 2014 10:05 a.m. MDT

People celebrate on a street after Liberian authorities reopened West Point slum where tens of thousands of people were barricaded amid the country’s Ebola outbreak, in Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. The slum of 50,000 people in Liberia's capital was sealed off more than a week ago, sparking unrest and leaving many without access to food or safe water.

Abbas Dulleh, Associated Press

MONROVIA, Liberia — Crowds celebrated in the streets of Liberia's capital on Saturday after authorities reopened a slum where tens of thousands of people had been barricaded for more than a week to contain the country's Ebola outbreak.

The blockade of the West Point neighborhood had sparked unrest as residents feared running out of food and safe water on the peninsula.

Lifting the quarantine Saturday morning doesn't mean there is no Ebola in the West Point slum, said Information Minister Lewis Brown. Authorities, though, are more confident now that they can work with residents to screen for the sick, he said.

"They're comfortable with the way the leadership and the community is working with the health team to make sure that the community remains safe," he said.

Liberia has been the hardest hit of the five countries with Ebola cases in West Africa, reporting at least 694 deaths among 1,378 cases. More than 3,000 cases have been reported across Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and on Friday Senegal announced its first case.

A student from Guinea who had been missing for several weeks showed up at a hospital in Dakar on Tuesday, seeking treatment but concealing that he had been in contact with other Ebola victims, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck confirmed.

The next day, an epidemiological surveillance team in neighboring Guinea alerted Senegalese authorities that they had lost track of a person they were monitoring three weeks earlier, and that the person may have crossed into Senegal.

The student was tracked down in the Dakar hospital and immediately quarantined where he is reported to be in satisfactory condition, Seck said. Authorities also sent out a team to disinfect the home where he was staying in Senegal.

Associated Press writer Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.

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