The five-year-old son of the woman who died last Thursday from the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) has been confirmed positive with the virus.
The boy (name withheld), along with three others, is being given supported treatments at the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) II Ebola treatment unit (ETU), which presently has a 60-bed capacity, should the number of cases in this new outbreak increase.
The other three, including the sister of the boy’s deceased 30-year-old mother and his two siblings, are suspected of having the virus, because of their direct interactions with the index case, who died last Thursday, March 31, while en-route to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, a densely populated suburb of Monrovia. The three are still yet unconfirmed as having the virus.
Health Minister Dr. Bernice T. Dahn said in a statement that the 30-year-old woman’s “blood specimens were taken and tested positive for Ebola.” She also said investigations are “ongoing to identify the source of transmission and the line-listing of contacts,” and called on Liberians and foreign residents to not panic as health authorities are doing everything possible to contain the new outbreak.
Along with the four under observation, at least 46 contacts, including 13 healthcare workers, who worked at a clinic in Jacob Town, Monrovia, where the 30-year-old woman sought treatment before her death, are now being observed and monitored. The healthcare workers at the clinic are under what authorities at the Ministry of Health termed “voluntary precautionary observation (VPO).”
According to Deputy Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, and the Ministry’s Communications Director, Sorbor George, the temperature of the healthcare providers are being tested every morning and evening.
George said they are being kept at a “safe place far from their families and friends so that they don’t contaminate others, just in case.”
Nyenswah disclosed that at least 99 percent of the contacts that the victim might have come in contact with prior to her death are now being traced and that ordinary Liberians need not be afraid “as the MOH now has all the capabilities including rapid response to bring any outbreak of the transmission under control.”
He told our Health Correspondent that the Ministry is suspecting that this present outbreak is an “imported one,” as the lady’s history shows that she entered Liberia on March 21 from neighboring Guinea.
According to Mr. George, they understand that the lady’s husband had recently died of the virus in neighboring Guinea, which is battling a resurgence of the deadly virus that has now claimed several lives.
Minister Nyenswah further disclosed that the official Liberian borders with Guinea were closed on the day the lady and her three children entered the country.
He added, “So, she didn’t come through any of the official border posts.”
He, along with his Communications Director, quoting the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that the EVD outbreak in West Africa is no longer a public health threat. However, Minister Nyenswah has cautioned every Liberian and others residing in the country to revert to all the Ebola protocols, including constant washing of hands, avoiding body contacts with others as much as possible, etc.
Minister Nyenswah said the Health Ministry is not taking this single case lightly as one confirmed case is enough to create an epidemic.
Liberia was last declared free from the EVD transmissions on January 14. It was first declared EVD-transmission free on May 9, 2015, but new cases emerged subsequently, forcing health partners to restart the clock each time.
Following the Ebola-transmission free declaration in May 2015, the nation entered a 90-day period of heightened surveillance aimed at preventing a future reemergence of the disease. Unfortunately, the nation has reported more than two new outbreaks.
WHO has recorded the latest deaths and summed up Liberia’s Ebola death tally to 4,809 since March 2014. It also said at least 10,675 persons have been affected with the virus in Liberia.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced early last week Ebola is no longer a public health threat of international concern, because the three worst affected countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have the full capacity to effectively manage any resurgence of the transmission as evidenced in the last two flare-ups in the countries.
The MOH has called communities to remain vigilant to report to their respective leaders and health care-givers any person/s showing signs and symptoms of Ebola and any deaths in their communites, or call 4455 with any concerns and information.
“Always protect yourself, family and community,” Minister Dahn urged.
In another development, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has conveyed a consignment of health-related items to the MOH, donated by Liberians residing in the U.S. donated to his office in Monrovia, are worth US$700,000.
Making the presentation on Friday at the Ministry’s Congo Town office, VP Boakai said the donation seeks to help in the building of a resilient health care system. He also spoke of the many goodwill gestures that are shortly expected in the country to boost the country’s health system.
Some donated items were surgical lights, hospital beds, walkers, bedpans and food items among others. Sorbor George, who received the items on behalf of Minister Dahn, lauded the Vice President and all those associated with the donation. He promised that the items would be used for the intended purposes.