IMS Investigates Source of New Ebola Infection

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The Incident Management System (IMS) has launched an investigation to establish the source of the new confirmed Ebola case in Liberia.

Speaking Friday, Dr. Francis Kateh, the Acting Head of the IMS, confirmed the report of the new case.

“It is confirmed; we have got the first test and it is positive,” Dr. Kateh stated. With that announcement, the news of the new Ebola case spread like wild fire across Monrovia and the rest of the country.

In a phone conversation with our Health Correspondent on Saturday, Dr. Kateh said the IMS investigators were doing everything to get to the source of the infection, which he stated is still a “mystery” to them based on what the 44-year-old infected lady has told them so far.

He stated that there were many here-says and they were doing everything to connect the dots to find the source of the infection and to ensure that no one who came in contact with the lady goes into hiding.

The 44-year-old lady (name not given), who was taken from her Caldwell residence in Monrovia, is now being treated at one of the Ebola treatment units in Monrovia. There are 19 ETU’s around the country now empty of their intended occupants, but for this latest case.

The infected lady reportedly told the IMS investigators that she sells “cold bowl” in Caldwell. Cold bowl shop is a widespread, low class form of restaurant where most ordinary Liberians eat. These shops only deal in local dishes and while the food is tasty, the service and utensils are often not sanitary. Contact tracers have the challenge of finding the customers she served since becoming infected.

This newspaper was told that the lady’s entire household has been quarantined. One other complication the investigators are now faced with is finding the motorbike rider who took her from Caldwell and dropped her off at the Redemption Hospital on Thursday.

The news of the new Ebola case emerged after the country had gone nearly 30 days without a confirmed case. The IMS is not taking this single case lightly as one confirmed case is enough to create an epidemic.

Liberians have been anxiously hoping to get past the 42 straight days without a new case of Ebola in order for the country to be declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO).

April 14 was the day set by GOL’s Incident Management System (IMS), which manages the nation’s Ebola crisis, as the day the “straight 42 days” would have been accomplished for the global health organization to declare the nation free of the disease. At least 16 days had gone into WHO’s counting standard after the last test of the last confirmed patients had proven negative.

Forty-two days are two incubation periods for the virus. It manifests itself within a patient in two to 21 days. If it does not show itself within 42 days, then WHO can declare that region or country Ebola free.

Unfortunately, with this latest news about the new confirmed case, which was reported on Friday, March 20, the hopes of Liberians to start afresh and leave Ebola worries behind have been frustrated as fear and apprehension set in that the horrendous crisis just ending may be returning.

A few days after the “last known confirmed case” was discharged from the Chinese ETU in Monrovia on March 5, most Liberians began returning to their “normal way of Life”, including shaking hands as a form of greeting. The hand washing buckets now famously referred to as “Ebola buckets” have disappeared from most homes, obviously too early.

In spite of the repeated warnings against complacency by health authorities, GOL and their international partners, people had begun to let down their guard, crowding up again at entertainment spots and ignoring preventive measures.  Both tertiary and lower academic institutions of learning have also reopened with some not adequately equipped with anti-Ebola supplies or other basic sanitary facilities. Unless Liberians and all stake holders tighten up compliance with the preventive measures and succeed in containing this latest case, our worst fears of a new outbreak may be confirmed.

As at March 18, according to the WHO, at least 4,264 persons have died in Liberia from the deadly virus which has also infected 9526 persons in the country.

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