“Alert” Coronavirus Case Under Observation by NPHIL

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Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director General, National Public Health Institute of Liberia

Dr. Fallah: “We are not calling it a suspected case,” although no confirmed case in country.

An authority at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health (MOF) says they are currently monitoring an “alert” case of the Coronavirus involving a man who recently returned to Liberia from Beijing, China.

At a press conference in Monrovia on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, the Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, Dr. Mosoka Fallah, said, “We got an alert, thanks to the cooperation from our team at the airport; a Liberian returning from China was picked up last night at the airport.  He was sick and could not walk, and when they realized that he was from Beijing, China, he got picked up and the team took him in an ambulance.”

According to him, the man arrived in Liberia via  Ethiopia Airways, having transited in Ghana where he was tested and proven negative of the Coronavirus.

Dr. Fallah told reporters that another specimen of the “alert case” has been taken, sent out of the country and the result is expected back within the next couple of days. Dr. Fallah added that the patient is being closely monitored.

“We’ve been following up with the nurses and doctors that have been monitoring him – he has no fever, no cough,” Dr. Fallah said, describing the condition of the patient while addressing journalists on Tuesday at NPHIL headquarters in Congo Town.

Dr. Fallah: “So, we are considering this as an ‘alert case’; we are not calling it a suspected case; we want the public to be aware.”

He, however, admitted that currently, Liberia has no capacity to conduct actual testing for Coronavirus cases in the country, something which he said puts the country on the second line of reagent capacity.

He further noted that what they have gotten so far from the World Health Organization (WHO) is the reagent to collect the swabs. Through a whole courier system setup by WHO Afro, the swabs get picked up through a system and goes to one of four countries from here – Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Senegal.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fallah has expressed concern that the person with the ‘alert’ case used a laissez-passer to enter the country, which according to him he most likely obtained while in Ghana. He stressed the importance of the government putting a halt to issuing laissez-passers.

It was reported recently that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended the issuance of laissez passer-by embassies and consulates even though the Ministry has denied instituting such regulation.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fallah has hailed the collaboration of all government ministries and agencies in the efforts to prevent the virus from entering the country, adding that the “public is working in our favour”.

In a related development, the Minister of Health, Dr. Whilemina Jallah, has disclosed that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has been very cooperative. “We have received some of the money we asked for – enough to make sure that those who are working are compensated on a low scale and also to pay some of the debts we have accumulated in terms of the observation center.”

Minister Jallah recognized the Armed Forces of Liberia for being “very cooperative” by working to revitalize an isolation center on Bushrod Island, which will be preserved for suspected cases as part of the country’s preventive mechanism.

The New York Times reported on Thursday, February 13 that, “officials added more than 14,840 new cases to the tally of the infected in Hubei Province alone, bringing the total number to 48,206 — the largest one-day increase so far recorded. The death toll in the province rose to 1,310, including 242 new deaths.”

These alarming figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China to 59,864 so far. So far, 1,368 people have died from the virus in China.

In some hopeful news, no new deaths outside of China, other than the one that died in the Philippines. Also, 5,971 cases have recovered, 61 of this number being outside of China.

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