The Liberian man infected with Ebola who brought the disease to the United States will be prosecuted when he returns home for lying on his airport screening questionnaire, Liberian authorities said Thursday.
With an Ebola crisis raging in West Africa, passengers leaving Liberia are being screened for fever and are asked if they have had contact with anyone infected.
On the form obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by a government official, Thomas Eric Duncan answered "no" to questions about whether he had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.
Neighbors say Duncan had days earlier helped carry to a taxi a pregnant woman who later died of Ebola. Her illness at the time was believed to be pregnancy-related.
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The 19-year-old pregnant woman was convulsing and complaining of stomach pain, and everyone thought her problems were related to her pregnancy, in its seventh month. No ambulance would come for her, and the group that put her in a taxi never did find a hospital. She died, and in the following weeks, all the neighbors who helped have gotten sick or died, neighbors said.
At the time Duncan left, it's not clear if he knew of the woman's diagnosis. Officials have said Duncan was showing no symptoms when he boarded the plane and he was therefore not contagious. Ebola can only be spread through the bodily fluids of people showing signs of the disease.
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"He will be prosecuted" when he returns to Liberia, Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the board of directors of the Liberia Airport Authority, told reporters. The agency obtained permission from the Ministry of Justice to pursue the matter.
"We expect people to do the honorable thing," said Kesselly.
He said that people like Duncan and Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American with Ebola who traveled to Nigeria and infected people there, have brought a "stigma" upon Liberians living abroad.
Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 7,100 people in West Africa and killed more than 3,300, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia is one of the three countries hit hardest in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.