Ebola Strikes Liberian Presidency: One Dead, One Quarantined


Monrovia – Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is also the seat of the Liberian presidency, has been hit by the deadly Ebola virus, FrontPageAfrica has learned.


On Monday, the Administrative Assistant to Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan reportedly died from what sources say is a suspected case of the deadly virus. Her husband, a staffer in the office of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is currently under quarantine.

FrontPageAfrica is withholding the names of the officials because the government has not officially notified the public about the cases, so close to the Liberian presidency. Minister Ngafuan’s office is two floors below the floor now being used as the President’s office.

The wife of the President’s office staffer reportedly died on Monday and may have gotten the virus from a sister, who had previously died. A praying woman who reportedly had sessions and laid hands on the sister of the deceased Administrative Assistant, has also died.

Sources within the Executive Mansion informed FrontPageAfrica Wednesday that both the deceased Administrative Assistant in Minister Ngafuan’s office and her husband had been told not to return to the office until after 21 days.

“ They had not been coming to work for more than 21 days now,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not clothed with the authority to speak on the matter.

Minister Ngafuan is currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia attending an Emergency Meeting of the African Union’s Executive Council on the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak.  Attempts to reach the minister and his press aide have been unsuccessful. The AU members are recommending the urgent lifting of all travel bans imposed on countries affected by the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

The Ministry has been the seat of the presidency since 2006 when fire gutted the fourth floor during celebrations marking the 159th Independence Day celebrations in the presence of three West African leaders, who had come to witness the then newly-elected President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf switch on electricity to reach limited parts of the capital city.

South African forensic scientists brought in to probe the cause of the fire said it was an electrical fault. Following the fire outbreak at the Executive Mansion, the Government of Liberia announced a closure of the Mansion, and President Johnson-Sirleaf relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the president has for the past eight years been performing official state functions.

The mansion was constructed in 1964 under the regime of the late Liberian President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman by 2,000 workers, including about a fifth of Monrovia’s labor force, and 150 foreign technicians. The eight-storey Executive Mansion building, which costs US$20 million, has an atomic-bomb shelter, an underground swimming pool, a private chapel, a trophy room, a cinema, an emergency power plant, water supply and sewage system, among others.

The report comes just 24 hours after Defense Minister Brownie Samukai told the U.N. Security Councilthat the outbreak poses a “serious threat” to the war-torn nation’s very existence. Samukai’s words were echoed by the U.N. Secretary-General’s special representative Karin Landgren, who said Liberia is facing its gravest threat since its decade-long civil war ended in 2003. She deemed the outbreak a “latter-day plague” and its spread “merciless.”

Liberia is worst hit among the nations affected by the current Ebola epidemic with at least 1,200 recorded deaths. Over the past three weeks, the country has experienced a 68% bump in infections and the World Health Organization estimates the surge will continue to accelerate in coming weeks.

Humanitarian groups in the country have been complaining that there simply aren’t enough beds and suspected victims of Ebola are reportedly turned back to their communities or left waiting outside medical facilities, aggravating the risk of further contagion.

At least 160 health workers have been infected with the virus and 79 have died, in a nation that counted a paltry single doctor per 100,000 inhabitants at its onset. Landgren pointed out that the challenge also goes beyond the medical response.

“The enormous task of addressing Ebola has revealed persistent and profound institutional weaknesses, including in the security sector,” she said. “As the demands pile on, the police face monumental challenges in planning and implementing large scale operations.”



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