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Highway Bandits Steal Blood Believed To Contain Ebola Virus

A roadway robbery in Guinea resulted in an alarming haul this week, as thieves made off with cash, personal items — and a batch of Red Cross blood samples from patients believed to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

The incident happened in southern Guinea, an area close to two other West African nations hit hard by the outbreak: Liberia and Sierra Leone.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports:

"Robbers riding on a motorbike waylaid a taxi and made off with cellphones, jewelry and cash near the town of Kissidougou.

"The authorities in Guinea warn that the bandits also carried off a cooler bag containing vials of blood, believed to be Ebola-positive.

"The package was being transported by a Red Cross courier, one of nine passengers sharing a taxi, because of a shortage of vehicles in the area.

"A nationwide appeal on radio in Guinea urged the unidentified thieves to hand over the stolen blood samples. Ebola is spread mainly by contact with infected bodily fluids — including blood.

"The taxi was driving along rural routes from Kankan in central Guinea to an Ebola test site in Gueckedou in the south."

You can keep up with NPR's Ebola coverage here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.