By April 23, 2014, thirty-four cases and six deaths from Ebola in Liberia were recorded. By mid-June, 16 more people died. At the time it was thought to be malaria but when seven more people died the following month tests showed that was the Ebola virus. The primary reason for the spreading of the Ebola virus was the direct contact from one person to the next and the ingesting of bush meat. Soon doctors and nurses also became infected. On July 2, 2014, the head surgeon of Redemption Hospital was treated at the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, where he died from the disease. His death was followed by four nurses at Phebe Hospital in Bong County. At about the same time two U.S. health care workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and a nurse were also infected with the disease. However, they were medically evacuated from Liberia to the United States for treatment where they made a full recovery. Another doctor from Uganda was not so lucky and died from the disease. Arik Air suspended all flights between Nigeria and Liberia and checkpoints were set up at all the ports and border crossings.
In August of 2014, the impoverished slum area of West Point was cordoned off. Riots ensued as protesters turned violent. The looting of a clinic of its supplies, including blood-stained bed sheets and mattresses caused the military to shoot into the crowds.
Still more patients became infected, causing a shortage of staff and logistics. By September there had been a total of 3,458 cases of which there were 1,830 deaths according to the World Health Organization. Hospitals and clinics could no longer handle this crisis and patients who were treated outside died before they could get help. There were cases where the bodies were just dumped into the Mesurado River. The Ivory Coast out of compassion, opened carefully restricted humanitarian routes and resumed the previously suspended flights to Liberia.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the president of Libera sent a letter to President Barack Obama concerning the outbreak of Ebola that was on the verge of overrunning her country. The message was desperate, “I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us.” Having been a former finance minister and World Bank official, Johnson Sirleaf was not one for histrionics however she recognized the pandemic as extremely dangerous.
The United States responded to her request and American troops came in and opened a new 60-bed clinic in the Sierra Leone town of Kenema, but by then the outbreak was described as being out of control. Still not understanding the dangerous contagious aspects of this epidemic at least eight Liberian soldiers died after contracting the disease from a single female camp follower.
In spite of being a relatively poor country, Cuba is one of the most committed in deploying doctors to crisis zones. It sent more than 460 Cuban doctors and nurses to West Africa. In October Germany sent medical supplies and later that month a hundred additional U.S. troops arrived in Liberia, bringing the total to 565 to assist in the fight against the deadly disease. To understand the severity of the disease, a supply order was placed on October 15th for a 6 month supply of 80,000 body bags and 1 million protective suits. At that time it was reported that 223 health care workers had been infected with Ebola, and 103 of them had died in Liberia.
Fear of the disease also slowed down the functioning of the Liberian government. President Sirleaf, had in an emergency announcement informed absent government ministers and civil service leaders to return to their duties. She fired 10 government officials, including deputy ministers in the central government who failed to return to work.