Montserrado County District #16 Representative, Dixon Seeboe, who returned from Spain earlier this month, has agreed to turn himself in for a test of Coronavirus after President George Weah announced the country’s first case of the disease on Monday, March 16. Representative Seebo, on March 2, returned from Spain, a country that is one of the hotspots of the disease that has been declared global Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Although Representative Seeboe was reportedly screened by the health authorities at the Roberts International Airport, the government has requested that he should be tested for the virus to avoid the same situation that led to the country’s first Coronavirus case found in the person of the suspended Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nathaniel T. Blama. Blama is accused of having evaded health protocols at the RIA when he returned from an official trip to Switzerland, an allegation he denies.
According to Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Acting Director-General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, the lawmaker has agreed to health authorities’ request to undergo an official test to confirm whether or not he has the virus. However, Dr. Fallah failed to state when Representative Seeboe’s test will be conducted, as he could not respond to any question during the press conference at the NPHIL headquarters on Monday, March 16.
“Health workers have made contact with the lawmaker and he has agreed to be tested,” Dr. Fallah said.
Although Rep. Seeboe appears to be in good health, if his pending test result comes by positive, there might be a serious spillover of the virus in New Kru Town where he is expected to have come in contact with many people in that densely populated community since his return from Europe.
The borough of New Kru Town, which is home to over 60,000 inhabitants mostly living in zinc shack structures, is faced with serious environmental issues ranging from pollution to congestion.
Prior to the recording of Liberia’s first case of Coronavirus, Representative Seeboe had criticized health authorities’ decision to use the Redemption Hospital’s facility to quarantine suspected individuals of the virus. What he may not have realized was that the quarantine center was established long before the COVID-19 outbreak.
At the time of his argument, Seeboe said the New Kru Town borough was overpopulated that it would be unwise to locate a quarantine center there, vowing to use the residents to resist any attempt by the government to use Redemption Hospital as a quarantine center.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fallah has disclosed that they have dispatched surveillance officers to begin tracing all those who came in close contact with Nathaniel Blama from whom the first case of the virus is recorded.
“Several contact tracers have been dispatched at the residence of the EPA Executive Director in the Old Road, Monrovia,” Dr. Fallah added. “And we are managing it. We have also begun to trace all those passengers who were on the flight with Mr. Blama from Switzerland to Liberia.”
He, however, urged Liberians to remain calm as health authorities continue to search for all those who came in contact with the infected person.
As concern swells for Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee who reportedly came from abroad in recent days, Dr. Fallah clarified that Monrovia City Mayor Koijee did not fly back home with Nathaniel Blama.
In a related development, the WHO Technical Coordinator, Dr. Monday Julius, reaffirmed the UN health body’s commitment to supporting the government of Liberia to vigorously fight the disease.
Dr. Julius explained that in a situation like this, what usually is recommended is to scale up the emergency response activities which may basically include finding all cases to ensure that they are isolated, tested and treated.
“It is very important at this stage to give accurate information regarding the virus, and it is also good to seek information from the right authority to avoid rumors,” he admonished the government and the general public.