Health authorities in Liberia have identified new Ebola cases in the capital, Monrovia, a day after a study of experimental vaccines against the virus was launched in the country. Assistant Health Minister and head of Liberia’s incident management system, Tolbert Nyensuwah, told journalists in Monrovia on Monday that five confirmed cases had been reported around Monrovia over the past seven days.

According to Minister Nyensuwah, the cases were reported from three communities in the western suburbs of the capital. The World Health Organization puts the Ebola death toll in Liberia at 3,710, since the first case of the virus was reported in the country in March last year. The reports of new cases in the west of Monrovia come as parents and students prepare for the re-opening of schools, which was delayed by several months due to the outbreak. Before yesterday’s declaration of new cases, Nyensuwah had said there were only two more confirmed cases in Ebola treatment units nationwide.

The Assistant Health Minister has partially blamed the situation on some infected people refusing to seek treatment despite the availability of treatment centres, noting that a full-scale investigation is underway to ascertain why. Nyensuwah has warned that the government would invoke a section of the country’s public health law to prosecute and punish anyone caught spreading the virus through negligence. The ongoing large-scale trial of medicines which could potentially provide a defence against Ebola, which targets 28,000 Liberians in the country, is led by a joint Liberia-US partnership, Research on Ebola vaccines in Liberia.

Meanwhile, Minister Nyensuwah has called on the public to remain vigilant until Ebola is exterminated from Liberia.

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