Ebola Kills 2 More Journalists; Hits Another UNMIL Staff

Two more journalists have died of the killer Ebola virus disease, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has regrettably announced.

Journalist Alexander Koko Anderson, former employee of the Liberia Women Democracy Radio died at the ELWA Ebola Treatment Unit Wednesday morning (Oct. 8) while Cassius Saye, a cameraman at Real TV passed off over the weekend at the ELWA Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia.

Rea TV staff Cassius Saye was among the station’s non-essential staff sent home in the wake of the Ebola outbreak, while Alexander Anderson was no longer in the employ of LWDR, officials of the two institutions told the PUL Wednesday.

The latest brings to three the number of journalists killed by the deadly virus since the initial outbreak in March. The first journalist, Journalist Yaya Kromah, succumbed to Ebola last month at the J.F.K Treatment Center in Monrovia.

The PUL said it is saddened by the deaths of the journalists and calls on media practitioners in the country to stick to safety and prevention measures while taking the risks to cover and report the Ebola outbreak.

“The Ebola virus disease is ravaging our country’s human resource, breaking down our economy and leaving our state in terror and near-collapse,” PUL Secretary General D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh said. Sengbeh said: “Ebola is chasing everyone and every race, and journalists who are in the field informing and educating the public are increasingly becoming victims of the terrible enemy,” he lamented.

The PUL has meanwhile extended deepest condolences to the two media houses and the respective families of the falling journalists and challenged journalists not to weaver in the fight against the Ebola and the constant attacks on press freedom in the country.

In a related development, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Karin Landgren has confirmed that an UNMIL international staff member has tested positive for the Ebola Virus Disease [EVD], after presenting themselves as symptomatic to UNMIL Medical on 5 October. The staff member, who works for UNMIL Medical, is receiving treatment.

“This is the second case of Ebola within the mission. An earlier probable case resulted in the death of a staff member on 25 September. Our thoughts are with the staff member’s family, friends and colleagues.

“UNMIL has taken all necessary measures to prevent any possible further transmission within or outside the mission. In line with WHO protocols, the UNMIL Medical team has conducted immediate and robust contact tracing to ensure all people that came into contact with both staff members while they were symptomatic are assessed and quarantined. All UNMIL staff considered at-risk have been isolated, and ambulances and other locations decontaminated.

“The mission is extending the robust review of its own actions initiated in the wake of the first, probable, case of EVD. UNMIL will continue to strengthen the mitigation measures that had until late September helped to prevent any of our personnel in Liberia from contracting Ebola, despite the fact that thousands of UNMIL military, police, and civilians live and operate in affected areas.

“With Liberia facing its gravest threat since the civil war ended in 2003, UNMIL’s commitment to the country is steadfast. The mission will continue to do all that it can within its range of capabilities to help roll back the tragedy that is Ebola, a statement issued by the UNMIL boss said.