…Says 500 testing kits available, 2,000 more to come
In the midst of concerns as to whether or not health authorities have the capacity to detect any individual of the coronavirus, the National Public health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has assured the public of its capacity to test any patient and establish the status of the individual.
NPHIL Director-General designate, Dr. Mosoka Fallah made the disclosure recently at a joint press conference held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Congo Town. The government, according to him, has in its possession now 500 testing kits donated by its international partners and has procured an additional 2000 pieces.
He said the testing equipment are intended to vigorously enhance the country’s testing ability and to fast-track the fight against COVID-19. It may be recalled that in recent days the health authorities received a supply of reagents from the World Health Organization to NPHIL for the conducting test for the Coronavirus in the country.
This, he said, will help “rapid diagnosis” of the virus in Liberia. According to him, all testing will be done at NPHIL’s health reference laboratory in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the NPHIL boss has disclosed that Dr. Nathaniel Blama, who was tested earlier and confirmed positive of the coronavirus, is doing well. He also told journalists that Jerome Philips, the second Liberian who was also tested positive of the virus is also doing very well. “I communicated with Dr. Blama and he is very well,” he said.
He said out of the 144 contacts traced of those who came in close contact with Dr. Blama, 24 of them are at high risk, 21 of whom have been taken to the isolation center.
He explained that of the 21 contacts, specimens of 17 were taken for testing with 16 being tested negative while one is still being reviewed. “We are currently tracing contacts for the second case,” he added. He, however, clarified that as it stands, Liberia has only two confirmed cases of the coronavirus. He said NPHIL in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners has intensified measures at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) to ensure that there is no breach of the health protocols.
He called on the public to frequently practice hygiene by washing hands as it is the most preventive measure for any virus or disease.
In order to protect the public, Dr. Fallah said they have decided to secure an environment at the 14-Military Hospital and, with the cooperation of some agencies, “We were able to receive some CCTV cameras to fast-track some contacts that we may not lay hands on.
“We have now intensified our observation system at the airport wherein every plane that comes to the country, only five persons will disembark at a time,” he added.
In another development, the People’s Republic of China has donated a consignment of Personal Protected Equipment (PPE) to Liberia in support of the fight against the coronavirus that has now become a global pandemic.
The items donated include 50 barrels, 2,000 pairs of gloves, 100 sets of protective clothing, eight cases of isopropyl rubbing alcohol among others.
The donation was made on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at the Ministry of Health in Monrovia. During the presentation, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy, Xu Kun, said that China is in solidarity with Liberia in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. He said although the virus is also in his country, they will do everything possible to help Liberia fight the global pandemic.
Xu assured health authorities of his country’s commitment to providing all necessary expertise to the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health to combat the virus.
He disclosed that his country is making tremendous progress in the fight against the virus, thus leading to a decline, adding that mobilization and rapid response to the coronavirus was the main reason for the decline in the number of cases now in China.
Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah thanked the people of China for their donation, adding that in spite of challenges that China faces it is still stretching hands to Liberia; something which she said needs commendation from the people of Liberia.
In a related development, the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, NPHIL have clarified that there is sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which is being used by nurses and other public health workers assigned at the various quarantine centers.
NPHIL and Moh said in a release that at no time was any health worker assigned at the various quarantine centers without them being provided with PPE.
Health authorities sated firmly that, as part of public health response, no health worker has ever been allowed to enter any quarantine center without a PPE.