NPHIL official, 300 others carrying the virus, as Dr. Fallah makes rare public revelation, calls for more rigid measures to contain the disease
For those Liberians who thought that the Ebola outbreak that hit the country four years ago was devastating, they need to rethink and brace themselves for the Coronavirus if the information coming out of the National Public Health Institution of Liberia is anything to go by.
In a rare public revelation, health authorities on Tuesday made an embarrassing disclosure that an estimated 300 persons who are carriers of the COVID-19 are roaming Monrovia and its environs undetected.
According to Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Liberia’s chief infectious disease officer, the country has “about three hundred active Coronavirus carriers who are freely roaming Monrovia and its environs.
This rare admission from Dr. Mosoka Fallah, who is the Director-General for the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and other health authorities contradicts previous claims that it has the outbreak under control.
Dr. Fallah further said to break the chain of transmission and beat back the looming danger, the country needs to implement more stringent measures which include a total lockdown, especially the most impacted counties, with no one leaving home.
Such measures, Dr. Fallah said, is necessary to take the virus off the streets and into the communities where they can be contained, traced and isolated.
“There is a need for total lockdown where nobody is to leave his/her home. We have to take a very hard decision to save this country now. People need to be kept in their homes without leaving. We have to do that as a government if we are to have a chance against the virus,” he said.
Dr. Mosoka Fallah’s call for a total lockdown of the country comes barely a week after President Weah announced a State of Emergency, banning residents from leaving their homes except for essential reasons of health and food, which should be restricted to local communities only, and be limited to a single person per household for a maximum of one hour.
However, such measures are not adequately enforced by state security officers as public transport is still running, people are still moving around, not wearing masks, having gatherings in Monrovia and its environs until 3:00 p.m. — the deadline by which people should have been off the streets.
NPHIL Headquarters Closed
Meanwhile, Dr. Fallah has disclosed that at NPHIL, they have found themselves in dire straits after Benjamin Soko one of the institutions senior-level staff came down with the virus.
Dr. Fallah added the situation could lead to spillovers in the entity, thereby substantially impacting their fight against the virus.
“This is why we decided to shut down the entity completely and have it fumigated and have now embarked upon a robust contact tracing exercise. The situation is worrisome because it has created total uneasiness among staff and may impact their ability to work with passion.
In addition, he said the issue of Soko who deceptively did his COVID-19 test under a different name at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex testing center, has dampened morale of the entity, demoralizing many of its staff that should be leading the national response effort against the virus as many of its technicians have been reportedly placed in isolation for observation—and it is a huge blow to a nation that already has a struggling health sector that is faced with serious challenges.
In a related development, the NPHIL boss has disclosed a plan to send out 15,000 health workers in the various communities to identify potential cases. It, however, remains unclear whether the country does indeed have trained 15,000 health workers with the requisite skills to conduct such an exercise.
Dr. Fallah also said, “8,000 testing kits have arrived in the country and would help in mass and robust testing exercises to be conducted across the country.”