— Rep. Dixon Seeboe says health authorities’ plan to use Redemption Hospital accommodate suspected Coronavirus patients is risky
Having argued vehemently against a suggestion to make the Redemption Hospital a quarantine center for the Coronavirus that is rapidly spreading across the world, Montserrado County Electoral District #16 Representative, Dixon W. Seeboe, says he will rally residents of the Borough of New Kru Town to protest if the plan to use the hospital remains.
The District #16 Lawmaker told his colleagues in session that “as we speak, residents of New Kru Town are gearing up to protest if Health Authorities insist that Redemption Hospital is used to quarantine any suspected case of the Coronavirus disease.” He therefore declared Redemption Hospital a “no-go-zone” for Coronavirus patients.
Redemption Hospital was a major quarantine center in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia that claimed over 1,000 lives across the country, and the hospital is where the effort to make a vaccine for the disease began.
However, Representative Sebo made his daring and uncompromising remarks on Thursday, January 30, during and after session, insisting that quarantine centers for the Coronavirus should be hosted in an isolated area.
“If some of you are two or three in a room, [then] in New Kru Town, we are 10 to 15 persons in one room,” the Montserrado County District #16 Representative pointed out, suggesting that New Kru Town is too congested to host a quarantine facility, especially for an airborne disease as contagious as the Coronavirus.
He vehemently argued against using Redemption Hospital to quarantine any killer disease, which is more contagious than the Ebola virus, saying it should not be allowed in New Kru Town.
More than 100 Liberian students are expected to return home from China as a result of shut-down of their various universities following the outbreak of the fast-evolving Coronavirus, which have affected about 8,000 persons in China. There have been no reports of whether those affected are only Chinese.
He pointed out that the Australian government has planned to quarantine citizens from China in an isolated and remote Island, a strategy Liberia could emulate, instead of using the Redemption Hospital that is flooded with human beings.
“We say no!” Representative Sebo said in a very forceful tone.
Rep. Seeboe’s stern assertion was in response to a statement by Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Minister, Francis Kateh, who had earlier said that having a quarantine center at Redemption Hospital would mean no harm because quarantine centers are built in line with international standards to hold any kind of diseases and the nurses are trained to handle infectious diseases.
Dr. Fallah told the Daily Observer over the weekend that, at the close of ebola, the Government of Liberia, along with international partners, “identified five isolation centers across the control area, called INSIITU, that would serve as isolation and treatment center for infectious diseases: one next to Redemption Hospital, one in Gbarnga for central Liberia, one in Fish Town for the southeast, one in Lofa,” he explained. “The goal was to avoid the mistakes from ebola where it took us long to build ebola treatment center while people were dying. Redemption was selected because of the population that could be readily accessible. It is built to avoid anything from being exposed to the people.”
According to Dr. Fallah, the site at Redemption is currently in use, as infectious patients are currently being treated there.
“Even as I speak to you we are managing a lassa patient there over the last several days but no one knows. Lassa [fever] is a small brother to ebola. Even as I [speak] Dr. Jerry Brown has led a team of medical experts to look at the safety features and reinforce them. We do not have the time or the financial resources to build an INSIITU of that nature now [elsewhere],” he said.
“This is not about the place but the structural engineering put in place to eliminate threats to the population,” Dr. Fallah concluded.
In a follow-up phone interview, Rep. Seeboe told the Daily Observer that he is expected to meet with health officials this week to find a way around the concerns about the risk factor. He also stressed that, as an honorable representative, he would not encourage protest, as was earlier declared, but would work to address the concerns of his district in a peaceful manner.
As international media continuously report the spread of the Coronavirus disease, the Liberia Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) are requesting US$3 million from the government to initiate prevention measures against the fast-evolving coronavirus which, according to scientists, is more deadly than the Ebola virus.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms including a running nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others more likely to lead to pneumonia. The incubation of Coronavirus is between 14 to 21 days, and it is an air-borne disease that can be transmitted from one person to another through air (sneezes and coughing) and through touching (fluid and blood, as well as fecal matter).