Ellen Declares Ebola Outbreak ‘National Public Emergency’

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President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has declared the Ebola outbreak in the country a national public health emergency and has called on the public to protect their respective families and communities against the deadly Ebola virus.

Speaking in a nationwide address on Sunday, President Johnson-Sirleaf said the public should avoid direct physical contacts with body fluids of individuals or animals infected with the virus.

The President strongly warned that those who keep people suspected or confirmed of the Ebola virus in homes, prayer centers and other non-medical centers create public health hazards; and that such centers will be prosecuted under the public health Law of Liberia. President Johnson-Sirleaf also called on the public to adhere to all necessary prevention measures in a bid to contain the virus.  

Meanwhile, Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale has outlined key steps to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in the country. Speaking on Monday during the National Ebola Task Force Meeting, Dr. Gwenigale said he will meet with other government officials including the Legislators, Minister of Internal Affairs as well as religious and traditional leaders to see the outbreak as a national emergency so that they can sensitize their respective constituents about the issues of denial, traditional, religious, and burial practices that spread the Ebola Virus.

Minister Gwenigale, however, frowned on the attitudes of some spiritual leaders who encourage suspected or confirmed persons of Ebola to go to prayer centers for healing against the virus. Such practices, Minister Gwenigale said, do not only expose those spiritual or traditional healers to the virus but lead to the increase in the number of cases. Dr. Gwenigale also used the occasion to express his sympathy to health workers and the families of those health workers as well as those who lost their loved ones as a result of the Ebola virus.

Minister Gwenigale, who has been out of the country for more than month, Monday, June 30, began touring major hospitals around Monrovia. The Health and Social Welfare Minister’s visit to these health facilities, including James Davis Jr. (JDJ) on the Somalia Drive, JFK Memorial Hospital in Sinkor and Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, was to boost the morale of health workers, whose zests have dropped following deaths of some of their colleagues to Ebola.

At the JFK Ebola isolation center, Minister Gwenigale and his Deputy Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, braved the storm and got dressed in the personal protective equipment (PPE) and entered the isolation to speak with and see the three patients, who are now in the isolation at JFK.

Our Health Correspondent, who travelled with the Minister, said watching the health workers and the Health and Social Welfare Minister get dress, makes the disease even more scary and everyone should do all to adhere to the preventive tips as provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Our Correspondent said at every step of their movement within the isolation camp, they had to be disinfected and were warned not to touch their friend or anything within the facility.

The Minister said that he was visiting those facilities, also to urge health workers and medical practitioners attending to sick patients to do all they can to keep themselves safe. He is schedule to also visit other health facilities, including the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Congo Town, ELWA Hospital in Paynesville and the Cooper Hospital on 12th Street.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, June 30, the Ministry said there were two new confirmed cases bringing the cumulative cases (confirmed, probable, and suspected) to 90.  Total deaths stood at 49; thus bringing Liberia’s case fatality rate to 59.0 percent.

Hotline numbers have been established at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare where the public can call to get Ebola-related information. The numbers are 0886229641, 0886397381, and 0776547437.


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