As Ebola Resurfaces in Guinea, Liberian Health Authorities Mandated to Put Surveillance in Place

2
391
Gouécké, the location of the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Republic of Guinea, is less than 75 kilometers from Yekepa, Liberia, approximately 1 hour 35 minutes' drive. (Source: Google Maps)

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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The reasons for the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia during the last time around, was because of the complete disregard to the borders between Liberia and Guinea, on one hand, and Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the other hand. Poor border management and security, coupled with ignorance about the virus at the time, not only caused the devastation of Liberia’s healthcare delivery system, but also of the national economy, and at the cost of over 11,000 Liberian lives in a relatively short period of time.

    When the disease eventually went out of control in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone closed their borders to Liberia, respectively! This was a smart border management and security by each of the two neighboring countries in order to protect the public health and lives of their respective citizens. The irony of the matter was that these were the very two countries that introduced the little known but very deadly virus to Liberia in the first place.

    With news of this new emergence of the virus in the same village it reportedly originated in 2013, I thought the first move the president needed to make was to immediately close the border and send epidemiologists to the area for a very thorough assessment of possible cases and/or carriers of the virus. This would be out of the maximum precaution, knowing how the Ebola virus spreads very fast and insidiously among the population.

    And one more toll it had on the Liberian people was the psychological devastation: panicking and fear. Let’s face it; weigh the temporary immediate closure of the border and the precautionary mopping up of the area for any trace of the virus, as compared to the very high price Liberians would have to pay with the return of the disease just like the last time!

    This is no play, play matter. This is no time for cosmetic measures with a deadly pandemic. The Liberian people know this very well.

  2. Yap, I wholeheartedly agree with Anders! The Liberian borders must be shut immediately. Liberians do not want to see a repeat of that ugly experience with Ebola ever again.

    What is more scary this time is the fact that Covid-19 is wreaking havoc worldwide, although not as bad in Liberia. Like Liberia in those days when Ebola struck with a devastating blow, the US finds itself in a similar situation with Covid-19. Sadly as America tries to contain the deadly Covid-19 pandemic on its own soil, it will be difficult for the US to rush medical personnel and medical assistance to Liberia if drastic steps are not taken by Liberian government. Secondly, Obama is no longer the president. Times have changed. The current leadership is different.

    It’s my hope and prayer that Mr. Weah will act quickly. Oh God, please do my country a favor.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here