Education Ministry Shut Down as Senior Staff Dies of Ebola-Like Symptoms

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The death of an Education Ministry employee on Monday night has forced authorities there to close down the entire Ministry effective as of yesterday (Tuesday) for an indefinite period of time.

The decision, taken by Education Minister, Etmonia David Tarpeh, came immediately after she discovered that one of the Ministry’s employees, who had been at work on Monday, had left the office vomiting and later died at home.

In her abrupt pronouncement in the courtyard of the Ministry precisely at 8:10 a.m. yesterday morning,  Minister Tarpeh advised all employees of the Ministry to stay away from the entity’s 3rd street premises until the entire building has been sprayed or chlorinated by authorized personnel from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW).

On Monday night, it was reported that one of the employees of the Ministry, identified as Henry Karma, 40, assigned at the Procurement Division, died at his Barnesville residence from “running stomach.” He showed up for work on early Monday, but returned home complaining of an uninterrupted ‘running stomach’, which reportedly led to his demise.

The deceased, according to a highly placed source at MOE, upon coming down with the ‘running stomach,’ decided to stay away from any of the nearby medical facilities.  He rather remained at home because he feared being diagnosed with the Ebola virus.

“Late into Monday night, Henry Karma’s condition worsened until he expired. The MOE authorities on Tuesday morning suspected that Mr. Karma ‘s death was due to the Ebola virus. This led the Minister to order the  immediate and indefinite shutting down of the entire Ministry,” our source stated.

When contacted, the elder sister of the deceased, who also works as an executive secretary to the Assistant Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the MOE, said she could neither deny nor confirm that her brother had died from Ebola.

“All I can tell anyone is that, the late Karma died from ‘running stomach,’ because I don’t want to speculate on the mystery surrounding Mr. Karma’s death,” the bereaved sister told the Daily Observer yesterday, on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, all staffers, including presidential appointees at the Ministry, have been advised to stay away until further notice out of concerned, MOE officials said, for the well-being of its workforce,  including the various education officers around the country.  

The Education Ministry is the second GOL office to be temporarily shut down.  On Monday, the Ministry of Finance was also evacuated and all employees ordered to go home until further notice.  Finance Minister Amara Konneh ordered the building fumigated by the Ministry of Health.

As part of government’s fight to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic in the country, several ‘stringent’ measures have been instituted.  These include closure of the country’s major entry points or borders, with the exception of the Roberts International Airport (RIA), James Spriggs Payne Airport, Foya, Bo-Waterside, and the Ganta crossing points. 

Aside from the closure of the ‘porous’ border crossing points, a new travel policy by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) covering inspection and testing of all outgoing and incoming passengers will be ‘strictly’ observed.  Restrictions on public gatherings, such as solidarity marches, demonstrations and promotional advertising, are also prohibited until further notice.

Several other ministries and agencies as well as privately-owned entities and homes have joined in the anti-Ebola fight.  They have instituted prevention measures including the regular washing of hands at each entrance into buildings and homes.  Personal contact with people is also to be avoided.

To go by the new restrictions, hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers, and video clubs, are being ordered to play at least a five-minute film on Ebola awareness and prevention.

Additionally, communities that are seriously affected will be quarantined and travels in and out of such communities restricted.  Support will be provided to those directly affected by the quarantined restrictions.



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