Restrictions on the movement of people, quarantining of communities and positive response to the frequent washing of hands and avoiding infested dead bodies have helped to reduce the infection rate of the Ebola virus throughout Liberia, according to Mr. James Dorbor Jallah, Deputy Incident Manager for support services at the Incident Management System.
Moreover as the Dry Season approaches in Liberia, he said, intense heat and sunlight will contribute to Liberia’s effort to eradicate the disease. The Ebola Virus has been described as ‘fragile’ by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and is easily destroyed by heat and sunlight.
The Incident Management System, (IMS) is the body that has replaced the National Ebola Taskforce set up by the Liberian government earlier in the Ebola fight, headed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Mr. Jallah told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview in Monrovia Sunday that despite the optimism, “We should remember that we are still fighting the Ebola Virus disease and, therefore, there is no need for celebration.” Instead, he emphatically stated that the Liberian public should continue to take all safety measures, including regular hand washing, refraining from touching infected persons or dead bodies, avoiding all cultural and traditional practices that could spread the disease and avoiding movement from one area to another.
According to Mr. Jallah, coordinated information reaching his office from the various Ebola Treatment Units, (ETUs), indicates that across the country, “there are less than 400 people who are in treatment.”
“Therefore,” Jallah said, “there are more than 300 ETUs that are empty, which means they are without people who are being treated for the virus.” The latest report has also made it clear that decisions and recommendations approved by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and implemented by the Liberian government have worked to reduce increased infection from the insidious disease, Mr. Jallah said.
“All of us should continue with the measures outlined in this fight,” he said, “because the less than 400 people being treated in the various ETUs is still a high number,” he noted.
With particular reference to the six hardest hit counties of Montserrado, Bomi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Margibi, Jallah said, “Lofa County, particularly Foya and Barkedu, have registered less than ten persons in treatment in the last couple of weeks.”
At the peak of its infection, Jallah said, nearly eighty people were admitted at the ETU in Foya, with most of the cases coming from Quarduboni.
“The infection reduced tremendously when the communities in Lofa and citizens from areas in Monrovia, including religious leaders, got involved,” Jallah disclosed. “They implemented the measures issued by government and that has brought relief,” he said.
Jallah said, “Currently, Foya has reported no new cases and the 120 bed ETU is empty.”
While these reports show a success story, the World Health Organization, (WHO) has indicated that there could be 10,000 infections weekly in the coming weeks in Liberia. But with the dry season now in Liberia, as mentioned earlier, nature could work to support the fight against Ebola, according to health officials.
Since there are “sparks” of cases now and then, according to Jallah, “Liberia is still in the woods, meaning the country is not yet out of danger. However, recent reports on the decline in the use of the ETUs do not support the WHO’s dire prediction.
Jallah, whose division coordinates and ensures the effective provision of non-medical support to the Incident Management System, (IMS), said the re-organization of the National Ebola Task Force, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is effective in its fight against the disease.
He insisted that what could be considered as a success story came about and would continue if Liberians and residents take the following measures daily: Avoid touching sick or dead persons; Avoid movement from one community to another, particularly for people who may have been exposed to the virus and If one gets exposed to the virus, observe the 21-day quarantine.
Other measures are: Avoid contact with sick, symptomatic, or dead person’s saliva, excretion, vomit, urine, semen, etc.; Wash your hands regularly and Wash your hands when entering AND leaving buildings, since it is possible for an infected person to leave a virus on surfaces and other areas which people find easy to touch, such as door handles and stair rails.
Meanwhile Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Incident Manager of the Incident Management System of the Ebola Response, corroborated Mr. Jallah’s report yesterday in a phone interview and added that since October 19, there have been 329 patients in ETUs with 725 bed capacity across the country.
“While we are encouraged by such a prospect, it does not mean we are free from the disease,” Nyenswah said. “It is too early to determine why there are not many cases and we are investigating.”
Nyenswah said there are possibilities that “We have Ebola infected individuals in our various communities,” stressing on the need to follow measures outlined by the Liberian government in its fight against the disease.
In addition a source at the Foya Ebola Treatment Unit, (ETU), confirmed to the Daily Observer yesterday in a telephone interview that “in the last two and half weeks, there have been no new cases.” This corroborates information from the nerve center in Monrovia.