(NaturalNews) As panic grows from the current Ebola outbreak, which began in Africa and continues to ravage scores of people on the continent, authorities are becoming more resolute in preventing its spread, even adopting extreme measures that involve armed force.
As reported by Sky News, the armed forces of Liberia have been given orders by the government to shoot people trying to cross illegally from the border of neighboring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of the disease.
The report said that soldiers stationed in Grand Cape Mount County, which borders Sierra Leone, and in neighboring Bomi County, were to "shoot on sight" anyone trying to cross the border into Liberia, according to a local newspaper, the Daily Observer, which quoted deputy army chief of staff Col. Eric Dennis.
Grand Cape Mount County had 35 known "illegal entry points," according to immigration commander Col. Samuel Mulbah.
The illegal crossings are a major health threat, Mulbah said, "because we don't know the health status of those who cross at night."
Researchers not sure how the current outbreak began
As reported by CNN, the current outbreak of Ebola, the worst in the world's history, "probably" started in a two-year-old in a village in Guinea:
About eight months ago, the toddler, whom researchers believe may have been Patient Zero, suffered fever, black stool and vomiting. Just four days after showing the painful symptoms, the child died on December 6, 2013, according to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
At present, scientists do not know exactly how the toddler may have contracted the virus. Ebola is spread from animals to humans through infected fluids or tissue.
"In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines," says the World Health Organization, though researchers think fruit bats are what they call the virus's "natural host."
Liberia closed its borders with Sierra Leone weeks ago, because authorities were seeking to contain the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 1,100 people in West Africa. Scores more are infected; the disease has a 50-75 percent death rate.
The shoot-on-sight order came following an incident in which residents of a slum near the capital broke into an isolation center and freed as many as 30 Ebola patients, Sky News said, quoting a local newspaper, Front Page Africa.
"As I speak the police station is deserted. There is no security now in West Point," one resident, Moses Teah, was quoted as saying.
The break-in was done to raise protests about poor conditions at Ebola quarantine centers, but it raised concerns that the deadly virus will now spread to the slum and beyond.
"I saw sick people being taken out of the Ebola Centre," Teah reportedly said. "Some took them home to care for them."
Other residents who are continuing to deny the existence of Ebola looted the quarantine center. They stole patients' mattresses, blood-stained bedding, cooking utensils and medication, Sky News said, quoting various media reports.
Some Liberians believe that the Ebola outbreak is a ploy by the government to secure foreign aid, the Daily Observer reported.
Hundreds have died
In addition, Liberians have regularly criticized their government for failing to provide sufficient services to Ebola patients, like food, healthcare and, when needed, safe burials.
Sky News reported that WHO has said a "massive scaling up of the international response" is proper to ensure that the outbreak is controlled.
By August 15, 2,127 cases and 1,145 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the report said.
In Liberia, there were 786 suspected and confirmed cases, according to the WHO, of which 413 people died.
Ebola causes massive hemorrhages and can actually have a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. It is mostly transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids, but it can also be spread by attaching to aerosolized particles, as when an infected person sneezes, for example.