Highway bandits in Guinea stole a cooler full of blood samples taken from people suspected of having Ebola.
Authorities in the country went on national radio to appeal for the blood samples to be returned after they were stolen during the robbery of a taxi from a Red Cross courier.
The robbers forced nine passengers out of the taxi and took cell phones, cash, and jewelry, as well as the cooler of Ebola blood samples, The Associated Press reported
"We don't understand why they stole the blood sample. Perhaps they thought there was cash hidden in the flask," Faya Etienne Tolno, a Guinea Red Cross spokesperson, told the AP.
Dr. Barry Mournie, who works with the country’s Ebola response committee, said handling the blood would “be dangerous.”
"I can assure you, however, that the sample-transportation procedures will now be strengthened to avoid such disappointments," Moumie told the AP.
Dr. Hans Rosling, who works with Liberia on the country’s Ebola response, said difficulties transporting samples around the world requires rules for moving hazardous substances.
In Liberia, "we use specifically allocated motorbikes and cars. We use what's available and what's reasonable. We have to organize things as we go along," he told the news organization. "It may have been the correct decision in Guinea (to use a taxi) and the robbery was just a sad mishap. There's no way we can secure transport in all of this area. It was a good initiative to try to get the sample out."
The New York Times reported Thursday that Ebola responses in Liberia
have been “hampered by poor coordination and serious disagreements between Liberian officials and the donors and health agencies fighting the epidemic.”
In online speculation, many wondered whether the thieves knew they were taking the possibly Ebola-contaminated blood or if it was an accident.
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