–Over early release of suspected COVID-19 patient
Liberia Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh has defended the action of Jackson F. Doe Hospital administrations to release a suspected coronavirus patient while awaiting his test result.
The Sports Journalist who was reportedly tested for Malaria and proven positive earlier, came to be confirmed positive of the virus three days later after he was released from the hospital.
According to Dr. Kateh who once served as the Chief Medical Officer at the hospital, the action of the hospital does not in any way endanger the residents of the region.
“Yes, indeed a patient went over with various symptoms but based on the presentation, the hospital decided to conduct COVID-19 test. Getting the samples from Tappita to Montserrado to the research institution and returning with the result, this man has already shown improvement and went out and as soon as the result came positive, he was brought back in and is now receiving treatment. He is of no threat to the public and his early release did not pose any risk to the public,” Dr. Kateh told reporters at the Ministry of Health regular press conference on Monday, April 20, 2020.
However, Dr. Kateh said the situation has caused health authorities to put in place a measure code named” After Action Review (AAR)” to ensure that such an incident does not repeat itself.
Dr. Kateh added: “If anyone gets tested, they have to remain in isolation until the test result comes in. If you have symptoms similar to the virus, you still have to be kept in isolation while awaiting the test result. All health faculties have been informed about this and they are expected to corporate.”
While Dr. Kateh believes the hospital decision was not wrong, residents of Tappita are now living in fear of the virus spillovers as the patient after being released, went home and interacted with family members including his wife, children, and friends and colleagues at his workplace.
Such fear has been heightened because all direct contacts of the journalist have been quarantined.
Dr. Kateh’s statement also contradicts the account of Ebenezer Toe Strother, an Administrator of the hospital that their decision to release the patient early while awaiting his test result was an “error.”
“He was treated for malaria and not having space in the hospital, we asked him to go home and isolate himself. We realized the error and are now doing everything to isolate those who may have come in contact with him. We are not sitting. We are doing all we can to isolate possible contacts,” said Strother.
But the patient has denied ever being told to isolate himself and claiming further that the test was done without his consent.
Dr. Kateh added that Liberia COVID-19 cases are expected to increase when more testings are done across the country.
His statement comes as Liberia COVID-19 cases reach 99 with Nimba now controversially recording two new cases while Grand Kru County is still at one and the rest coming from Montserrado County. Currently, the death rate of the virus stands at eight while recovery is seven.
“Testing is good and will help health workers know exactly how and where they can tackle the killer disease,” he said. “As a result of the increment in cases, the government is now putting in place new measures to avoid the further spread of the virus. More work still needs to be done as self-protection and observing of all the preventive measures among the people is paramount,” he added.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah has again appealed to health facilities to remain opened to ensure that they help in the process of saving lives during this health crisis instead of shutting down their doors.
Dr. Jallah said because of the difficulty people face in abiding by the social distancing measures, all Liberians are encouraged to practice wearing masks constantly in order to avoid the further spread of the virus in Liberia and to help the country in breaking the transmission.