(AFP) Liberia said on Friday it was banning journalists from Ebola clinics, defying media rights campaigners who have warned panicked African governments against “muzzling” reporters in response to the crisis.
Government spokesman Isaac Jackson made the announcement as he was questioned on a radio phone-in show about reporters being barred from covering a strike at a Monrovia Ebola treatment unit (ETU).
Journalists had earlier been denied access to the Island Clinic in Monrovia to cover a nationwide “go slow” day of action by healthcare workers demanding risk bonuses for treating Ebola.
The minister told the Monrovia-based station he would insist that journalists report his statements from now on rather than what they saw for themselves.
Earlier, a caller identifying himself as a nurse at the centre told the station that patients had been dying because they were not receiving adequate care.
Sources from global aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF; Doctors Without Borders), which runs a unit of around 250 beds in Monrovia, said it would be writing to the government to ask to be excluded from the ban.
Liberia is ranked 89th out of 180 countries in the 2014 press freedom index produced by Reporters Without Borders. Sierra Leone is 72nd while Guinea is ranked 102nd.
The media rights campaign group warned that panicked governments fighting the epidemic were “quarantining” reporters to prevent them covering the crisis.