Liberia: COVID-19 Cases Reach 14, as Health Minister Issues Stern Warning

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Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia's Minister of Health

The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Liberia has now jumped to 14 just a day after local health authorities announced that 3 persons have died of the virus.

The latest development brings the active cases to 8, up from 7 yesterday, as community transmission takes centre-stage with stable suspected cases of 10.

However, the death and recovery cases still stand at 3 each.

Out of the 14 cases recorded so far, according to the National Public Health Institute, “12 were locally transmitted and that 6 of the indigenous cases have no epidemiological linkage to the country’s index case.”

The report which was NPHIL 19 Situation Report on COVID-19 disclosed that “661 contacts including 78 health workers have been documented”, however, only “353 contacts have completed 14 days.”

Such a situation has prompted Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health to issue a dire warning that the situation may worsen if Liberians continue to disregard the government’s COVID-19 preventive health measure.

Another situation that puts Liberia at more risk, according to Min. Jallah, is the refusal of COVID-19 contacts to cooperate with contact tracers to get them to the health facility for testing.

“Despite the increase in the number of cases of the country’s coronavirus, people are still flouting the rules and holding public gatherings in Monrovia and its environs. This is wrong and doesn’t mean well for the country,” Min. Jallah said. “The only way we will defeat the virus and keep things under control is when people abide by the rules and the preventive measures.

Although she did not call names, Min. Jallah has disclosed that the lack of cooperation from community members has led to health workers being attacked when out tracing contacts of a confirmed case.

“Stoning or chasing health workers with dogs is unacceptable and uncalled behavior that the public needs to desist from. If we find out that you are a contact person and we come to you just comply and stop them. They are there to help; therefore, you have to play your part,” Minister Jallah said.

On the number of COVID-19 deaths, Min. Jallah said out of the three patients that succumb to the virus, one of them died at home and the remaining two are different health facilities and not the treatment centre.

Min. Jallah added that the person who died at home was unaware that they had a virus, “until they started having difficulties in breathing at home. And by the time the person was taken to a health facility, it was late.”

As for the other two cases, Min. Jallah added that one of them was already in comma but both of them suffered from difficulties breathing.

“None of these cases got to the 14 military hospital to be cared for by our medical team. It is so unfortunate that we remain in our homes for a long time before seeking health care,” Min. Jallah said, the “COVID-19 death rate is very low but if you delay at home until it becomes critical then there is nothing anybody can do for you. Also if you have underlying health conditions, the risk is high.”

Meanwhile, Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh has said the government will soon begin distribution of testing kits to clinics based on the condition.

“One of our partners has promised to give us rapid test kits. In the absence of this, those who have a sign of the virus should go at SKD for testing,” Dr. Kateh said. “We are in a critical time, so people need to stop posturing in ways that present a serious threat to the public. By protecting those that are involved helps to build the trust and confidence reposed in us as health authorities. Health care workers are taking a risk, so we all need to protect them.”

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