Forty-eight-year-old Fallah Taylor, a Foya family head, who had had contact with his wife before she died after contracting the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD), has been declared free from the virus and has been reintegrated into his community.
Mr. Taylor, who was ecstatic when he was finally reunited with the community, said he was glad to be back among familiar faces. He was reunited with the community on Wednesday, April 23, at Harbel Camp 3, Firestone.
“I told you people when it started that I was going to make it; and I and my family have made it. I have forgiven everyone, including those who stoned me. God is the only true Judge; He will Judge everyone according to their deeds,” he said to a loud round of applause from bystanders, who gathered to witness the reintegration ceremony.
Mr. Taylor’s wife contracted the Ebola virus from her sister, the first person confirmed to have died from the virus, in Foya, Lofa County.
His wife looked after her sister when she came down with the disease and contracted it from her. Following her sister’s death in Foya, Taylor’s wife travelled back to Firestone, Margibi County to her family. A few days later, she too, succumbed to the Ebola virus— which has a fatality rate of 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, before she passed, Mr. Taylor and his one-year-old son were in close contact with her. In fact, her son was with her in Foya and had also travelled down to Firestone with her. Having close contact with a person affected with the virus is one of the ways in which the virus can be contracted. When authorities of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoSHW) and Firestone Rubber Plantation discovered that Mr. Taylor’s wife had arrived in Camp 3, Harbel, Firestone, they immediately dispatched a team to the area so that she and others who had come into contact with her would be prevented from potentially spreading the virus any further. Mrs. Taylor was placed in a special ward at the Firestone-run Du-Side Hospital, while her husband and their one-year-old son were isolated in order to be observed.
The virus’ incubation period is two to 21 days after a person has come in contact with a carrier, according to health authorities.
Mr. Taylor and his son’s blood samples were tested more than twice. Wednesday, April 23, made it 22 days since the man, who is a carpenter working with Firestone, and his son were isolated from the public. Because they had continually tested negative, they were reintegrated into the community.
The happy survivor praised God for sparing the lives of him and his children, two of whom were in school when their mother arrived home from Foya; they were not allowed to come home.
He thanked the Firestone authorities for standing by his side throughout his ordeal. He said that God knows why everything brought upon him and his family had come to pass, adding: “God knows why this happened; I just have to accept it.” He offered forgiveness to those who had stigmatized them during their quarantine period.
Speaking with the media, he said he moved into his new home with sorrow because his family is not complete. He said he was still shaken as his wife was no more and that he only depended on God to help him raise the children.
Plantation authorities moved Mr. Taylor into a new home. They furnished his new apartment with assorted items, including single beds, in both the master bedroom and other rooms. They also bought him assorted food items as a new start for him and his children.
At the reintegration ceremony, Mr. Patrick Rodrigo, the Plantation’s comptroller, offered the company’s condolences for the passing of Taylor's wife.
Mr. Rodrigo said God works in mysterious ways: “He took her, but He saw fit to save you and this little guy. Everyday, in our senior management meetings, the first thing we begin with is you and your family. We ask, ‘how are the Taylors doing and how is ‘Miracle Joe?”
'Miracle Joe' is the name the company calls Mr. Taylor’s one-year-old son, who was very close to his mother but — by what many consider to be a sheer miracle — did not come down with the virus. Unconfirmed reports have it that he was still being breast-fed by his deceased mother prior to her being isolated.
As Mr. Rodrigo welcomed Mr. Taylor and his family back into the community, the Firestone comptroller presented him with the keys to his new apartment and an undisclosed amount of money in a white envelope bearing the Firestone logo.
Also speaking at the occasion was Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn, who described the recovery of the family as a success story. She sympathized with Mr. Taylor for the loss his wife to the Ebola virus. Dr. Dahn, who broke down in tears a couple of times, presented a certificate and the lab results to the family as an attestation that they do not have the Ebola virus. She then informed the public that 81 persons classified as “contacts of Ebola cases” in Foya, Lofa County, will complete their 21 days of close observation in a Case Management Center on Sunday, April 27.
Speaking earlier during the program, the Medical Director of the Firestone Medical Center, Dr. Lyndon Mabande, confirmed the Ebola-free status of Mr. Taylor and his family after repeated laboratory test results proved negative. He urged the community to be supportive of them as they re-integrate into the community.
The Margibi County Health Team presented food and household items to the family as they begin their new life.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in its regular updates has said no new cases have been reported since April 23, 2014.
“However, total probable/suspected/confirmed cases remain at 34 including 6 confirmed deaths as of April 23, 2014,” the Ministry said in its April 23, 2014 update.
The following hotlines have been set up so concerned persons can call for further information and provide notices about suspected cases. The hotline numbers are: 0770198517, 0777549805, 0886530260, and 0886549805.
The Ministry further encourages the public to take the following precautionary measures during this Ebola emergency period: 1) not to eat dead bush animals and to be very careful when handling fresh bush meat; 2) to avoid bathing dead bodies of suspected patients; 3) to avoid eating plums/mangoes and other fruits that have been partially eaten by bats; 4) to avoid coming in direct contact with body fluids of infected persons or dead persons.
Other things the public is urged to do include washing your hands with soap and water as frequently as possible; treating water with chlorine before drinking; and reporting any community member with symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea via the hotline numbers mentioned above.