President George Manneh Weah has mandated the Ministry of Health and its immediate public health institute, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), to heighten the country’s epidemiological surveillance and preventive activities amid reports of the emergence of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in neighboring Guinea.
Guinean Health Minister Colonel Remy Lamah told some local and international news outlets on Saturday, February 13, 2021, that about four people have died of the virus in the Guinean town of Gouécké, which is in the proximity of Liberia’s northeastern border.
Gouécké is approximately 145 kilometers north of Ganta, Nimba County (approximately 3 hours’ drive) and less than 75 kilometers from Yekepa, Nimba County (approximately 1 hour 35 minutes’ drive).
Although no case of the disease has so far been detected on the Liberian side, the President’s instruction is intended to ensure Liberia takes proactive steps and actions to avoid the virus spreading to the country as it did in 2014.
The disease broke out in Guinea and Sierra Leone in 2014 and spilled over to Liberia in March of that year in Lofa County. Without much preparedness to combat the virus in Liberia, it rapidly spread and reached a peak in mid-July, thereby causing the three Mano River Union countries to fall in isolation. During this time, over 11,000 people died of the virus with other curable diseases killing others at the same time as medical personnel could not easily attend to patients due to the lack of personal protective equipment, which caused some of them to die at the early stage.
The President has also mandated Health Authorities to immediately engage towns and villages along the borders with Guinea to increase anti-ebola measures that include constant and proper hand-washing, avoiding handshakes, touching corpses and hugging, temperature testing, etc. which are also in place with the prevalence of Coronavirus.
While the President has instructed health authorities to increase surveillance level, though there has been no report of any case of the virus in Liberia, and President Weah has assured that the government is undertaking all measures to ensure that the public remains safe from the deadly virus.
Being acquainted with Ebola preventive measures considering the 2014 experience, President Weah further encouraged every citizen and resident within the borders of Liberia to adapt themselves to the preventive measures as they did in those years which aided international assistance to kick the virus out of the country.