Bong County Health Officer, Dr. Sampson Azoakoi, has stated that Ebola cases are still high in the county despite frantic efforts by the County Health Team, the County Leadership and partners to fight the deadly virus there.
Briefing journalists at the office of the Bong County Health Team at Phebe Hospital on Monday, Dr. Azoakoi said 74 new cases were recorded last week alone.
Of the 74 cases, he said, 15 are confirmed and 59 suspected. But he quickly informed journalists that of the 59 suspected cases, 32 are recorded in Bong, while 34 are from Margibi, with 6 registered from Gbarpolu and 2 from Monsterrado County.
Of the 15 confirmed cases, 3 are from Bong County, nine from Gbarpolu, and 3 from Margibi County.
Dr. Azoakoi also announced that the Bong County Ebola Taskforce received thirty-eight mobile laboratory results last week, of which 15 were positive and 23 were negative.
Nine of the cases were undetermined, meaning the nine are required to repeat their EVD test.
He was swift to notify the County Taskforce that a cumulative number of 1,326 contacts were recorded from the beginning of October, of which 1,226 persons completed the 21-day quarantine as instituted by the County Health Team.
The county also recorded 28 cumulative deaths from the period under review, with six occurring at the ETU in Suakoko District.
Dr. Azoakoi indicated that the County Health Team has documented 54 discharged patients from the ETU in Bong County.
He said three children from the ETU in Bong County have been reunited with their parents after surviving the killer disease.
He named Gbarpolu County as the latest epi-center, with nine cases, all testing positive, reported from that county.
The County Health Officer informed the gathering that the Ebola cases began to increase in the county from week ten when the disease engulfed the entire county.
Dr. Azoakoi told the Taskforce that he believes the rapid spread of the disease is the direct result of the refusal of local residents to adhere to measures announced by health authorities.
“If we do not change our behavior of how to treat this deadly disease, it will surely live with us for a long period of time despite firm commitment of the international community to fight the virus,” Dr. Azoakoi declared shaking his head in disappointment.
He told this paper that one of the underlying reasons for the increase in Ebola deaths in recent times is the entrenched culture of silence on the part of Liberians to report for testing in spite of the presence of testing centers in the county. This, he warned, is breaking down the fabric of the society.
The County Health Officer stressed that with the ingrained culture of silence, the County Health Team is finding it extremely difficult to fight the Ebola virus disease in the county. This is especially so because suspected Ebola virus carriers are not prepared to be quarantined or to report to the health facilities for early checkup and treatment.
Ordinary Bong County residents who spoke to the Daily Observer argued that the virus is not being enclosed due to the lackadaisical response on the part of the residents to the measures put in place by health authorities. Others maintain that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Government of Liberia are not doing much to respond to the appeals of health workers to provide services at the health facilities and ETUs around the country.