NEW YORK – As news broke Wednesday morning that the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. had died in Dallas, the victim’s home neighborhood in the Liberian capital remained under quarantine.
Nine neighbors of Thomas Eric Duncan already have died or are dying in the Block C area along 72 SKD Boulevard in Monrovia, CNN reported Monday.
Duncan, whose death was announced by Texas Presbyterian Hospital, evidently contracted Ebola when he helped rush 19-year-old Marthalene Williams, then in her seventh month of pregnancy, to the hospital after she developed symptoms of the disease.
Both of Williams’ parents have now tested positive for Ebola, as did another woman who went to the hospital to be with Williams.
WND reported Sunday that 9-year-old Mercy Kennedy is being harassed by Duncan’s friends and relatives because her mother, Marie Wreh, is among a string of deaths traced to the pregnant woman Duncan brought to the hospital.
Mercy’s mother had taken care of “patient zero,” Williams, washing her clothes and even falling over her corpse when she died Sept. 16, according to family members.
Now, Kennedy is being harassed by women in the community, who yell at her to leave the neighborhood, fearing she might infect the well and their children, reports said.
Those who knew Duncan in Liberia have told the Liberian press that he was determined to get to the U.S. even when he was at the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, where he was detained after he fled from Liberia to escape the civil war.
“Everybody in that camp was desperate to go to America,” Moulton Farley, a friend of Duncan’s in Liberia, told Front Page Africa.
“Basically everybody went there (Ghana) for the resettlement, but it didn’t work out. I also tried on many occasions and when it didn’t work, I came back home. Everyone who came from Ghana and was in the camp, knows that guy.”
Farley recalled that Duncan was a loving person.
“I knew Duncan well. As refugees in Bujumbura Camp, we were there hustling to see how we could make it,” Farley said.
“We were at war back home, so we were like trying to do everything humanly possible to make sure we stay alive to come back home. So when the war ended we began to come home one by one, and he came before me. I came in 2011. We met once and that was around the 72nd belt, somewhere around Boulevard Junction, and we just waved to each other, because I was in a taxi. That’s the last time I saw him. When I saw his photo on Facebook, I was like, ‘Oh! I know this guy.'”
Farley expressed disappointment when he learned Duncan had lied on his questionnaire leaving Liberia, failing to disclose he had had close personal contact with an Ebola victim.
He called the omission “cruel.”
Before Duncan’s death was announced Wednesday, criminal authorities in both Dallas and Liberia were considering pressing charges against Duncan for lying and for aggravated assault, on the same theory a person knowingly exposing others to HIV can be charged.
Those who knew Duncan in Liberia said that at the beginning of September he quit his job at Safeway Cargo, the sole general contractor to Federal Express in Liberia.
Front Page Africa further reported Duncan had a girl, now 19, with a woman he met during their stay in the Danané Refugee Camp in 1994, Mawatta Dunbar.
Front Page Africa commented many Liberians residing in the U.S. spent some time in either Danané or Buduburam or both.
Dunbar said Duncan later had a son with another woman, Louise Troh.
According to the African newspaper, Troh is now in Dallas, Texas, and is said to be the one who sent for Duncan.
When the child turned 3, Troh took him to America.
According to the London Daily Mail, Duncan had traveled to Dallas Sept. 19 to marry Troh, which would have paved the way for him to stay in the U.S. permanently.