Liberia is now reporting only two confirmed cases of Ebola in the country following the death of 10 year old Nathan Gbotee, Jr., who was the index case of the latest outbreak.
Young Nathan succumbed to the disease on Monday, November 23rd, after being diagnosed with EVD on Thursday, November 19th.
A few days later, his father, Nathan Gbotee, Sr., and brother also tested positive.
Fourteen family members of the Gbotees, who live in the Cowfield Community on the Duport Road, outside Monrovia, are now being quarantined at the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) II Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU).
The death of the 10 year old now brings Liberia’s Ebola death toll to an unofficial 4,809, as the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to capture the latest death on its Ebola situation report. WHO is still reporting 4,808 deaths. It also records 10,672 as the total number of persons to have been infected by the virus in Liberia. However, if the three new cases are added, the number will increase to 10,675.
The death of the boy has brought fear in Liberians, who witnessed how their compatriots died during the second wave of the first outbreak, with most of the dead cremated.
Meanwhile, at least 10 health workers, including two medical doctors, four nurses, two lab technicians and two housekeepers, who reportedly had some contacts with the Gbotees, are now being quarantined at a local guesthouse (name withheld) in the Soul Clinic Community.
The Daily Observer understands that none of the 10 is showing any signs and symptoms of the virus – that within two to 21 days of coming in direct contact with an infected person one starts showing visible signs of EVD.
But a very reliable health source on this new outbreak confided to our Health Correspondent that Nathan’s mother and other members of the family, who are at ELWA 2, are showing “very clear signs and symptoms” of the EVD.
Liberia was last declared free of the EVD transmission for the second time on Thursday, September 3rd, after going a second 42-day period without reporting a new case in the entire country. This is the third time that the disease has been reported in Liberia in the last two years.
Following the Ebola-transmission free declaration, the nation entered a 90-day period of heightened surveillance aimed at preventing a future re-emergence of the disease. Unfortunately, the nation is now reporting a new outbreak. If this new outbreak is tackled and the last confirmed person walks out of the ETU alive, or God forbid dies, two days later, the nation will again begin to count another 42 days.
As this outbreak has started to baffle Liberian health authorities, they have called for help from their US counterparts, who have sent in some of their experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to help with the latest resurgence.
The Deputy Health Minister said that the source of the present outbreak was still a mystery and that the experts were coming to help discover what happened.
Dr. Kateh said in addition to conducting serological tests, the experts will help to determine whether there was a prior exposure to determine the timeline when that person was exposed in order to enable health officials to find the exact source of this outbreak.
He is calling on everyone to constantly practice all the Ebola protocols, including constant hand-washing and trying as much as possible to avoid direct body contact.
According to Dr. Francis Kateh, Deputy Health Minister for Health Services and Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, the experts are expected to help the Liberian government deal with the deadly virus.
The US CDC, working along with other international medical teams, including the AU Mission, helped Liberia eradicate the virus and was declared free of its transmission in May 2015.