As Liberia records its 3rd case of coronavirus, the health authority in Monrovia has yet to establish the source of the infection; thereby, prompting the government to announce a 21-day Public Health Emergency to contain the spread of the virus.
The case involves a 63-year-old woman, Lenda Russ, who recently attended a beach party and got in contact with her long-time friend, Lorraine Mason, who is said to have returned from Italy over a month ago. The party was about 14 days ago, Mason has been tested negative.
“The new case is under quarantine at the 14-Military hospitals, but the most important thing is to identify the source of the new infection. From her own recollection, the only time she came in contact with someone from Europe was at the beach party, where she hugged,” said Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director General-designate, National Public Health Institute of Liberia. “After she told us this, we were able to trace the friend from our database and ran her test which result came out negative. We also tested her family and the results came out negative.”
Before the emergence of the news case, the lady from Europe, whose party the new patient attended, was quarantined at a local hotel in town but was released after complaining of poor sanitation at the hotel and was sent home to spend the rest of her self-quarantine. The beach party was held in Marshall, Margibi County on March 8, 2020.
However, the Daily Observer has learned that Russ was already on leave when she attended the beach party. When she got ill, sources say, she informed her employers, the Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia, who told her to stay away from the office.
According to Dr. Fallah, as the illness continued up to March 15, Lenda sought treatment at Aspen Medical Center and later at an unidentified clinic, and again to Aspen for further treatment on March 19, 2020, where she was forwarded to the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital for advanced treatment.
“At JFK, she came in contact with three nurses dressed in their personal protective equipment (PPE), waiting for an ambulance to take her to the 14-Military Hospital. At the [Military] hospital, we did her test and the result was positive,” Dr. Fallah said.
“From there, we realized that she had generated a lot of contact from where she works and at the Aspen Medical Center and the unidentified clinic she visited. At Aspen, she generated 26 contacts, workplace 56 contacts, 90 at the beach party and 10 at the clinic,” Dr Fallah said.
“So far, we have contacted 80 persons from the 90 contacts at the party. Since fourteen days have passed after the beach party, we are trying to check on those people and see if things are fine with them up to Wednesday,” Dr. Fallah said.
The 56 contacts from Russ’s place of employment have been asked to stay home as a precautionary measure.
“Today (Sunday, March 22) we tested 50 people associated with the third case and those with high risk, we are going to isolate them so that if they show symptoms, we can start treatment, Dr. Fallah explained. “On Monday, we will rerun the test for all those at the 14-Military Hospital as well as those that came in contact with her for the second time, and once their results come out negative, we will send them home.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Fallah has disclosed that the country’s index case (first) is doing well and currently at the Military Hospital, and they have 26 other close contacts under quarantine from the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority. According to him, if the other two confirmed cases in the ward test negative today, March 23, “the test will be repeated in the next 24 hours and, if the results remain the same, those tested will be sent home.”
News of the positive test, which was made public last Friday, March 20, a week after the country recorded its second case, marks an escalation in the local battle against a highly contagious, infectious disease that has put the world on edge.