Several weeks ago it was reported that a man infected with the deadly Ebola virus had found his way to a small town in Bensonville (Bentol), Montserrado County. Concerned citizens of the town immediately alerted the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which wasted no time in visiting the town. They soon discovered that the infected individual had fled to Bomi County; so the NIMS people proceeded there immediately and, fortunately, found the man and put him into an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU).
Meanwhile, the people who had been hiding the man in their Bensonville house got angry with those who had reported the incident. But thankfully the courage and forthrightness of the reporting family paid off. To date, no one else in that small Bensonville town has been infected.
Now, as we ended the first week of February, which should have enhanced the good news we have heard in the past weeks of no new Ebola cases and the closing of some ETUs, we are now faced with a resurgence of the virus.
The Head of NIMS, Tolbert Nyenswah, last Wednesday disclosed the most unfortunate news of this resurgence. He said persons in three towns in the St. Paul Bridge community on Bushrod Island, Zuba Town, Crab Hole and Gbangai Town, had contracted the virus and fled to Margibi, Bong and Lofa counties. The trouble is that all of these three counties have been declared Ebola-free. This gives NIMS the urgent, extremely difficult task of finding those persons in these counties and quarantining them. The NIMS workers have already quarantined 256 persons in Gaybah and Papa Towns in the Gibi District, where one person has already died of the virus.
This news is indeed heartbreaking because Margibi, especially the capital, Kakata, had been one of the hardest hit, with many people, including health workers, dying of Ebola. But the situation was quickly brought under control and in the past several weeks there has not been reported a single case in the county—until this week when these infected people from the St. Paul Bridge community in Montserrado County fled to Margibi, leading to another death.
After all the persistent advice which the government, through NIMS, the Ministry of Health and many other partners and volunteers have been giving to the general Liberian public, why on earth would people who are sick run to other counties, knowing the deadly danger of infecting others?
This is crass indiscipline, devious misbehavior and flagrant disregard of the right to life of the deviants themselves and of other people to whom they have fled.
Now who was it that died—was it one of the fleeing people, or one he or she infected? We may never know. But we commend the NIMS team for finding at least one community to which these irresponsible St. Paul Bridge people have fled.
We hope that all communities in the three counties where these people have fled are closely monitoring any strangers, newcomers or people visiting their areas after a long period and report them immediately to the NIMS teams in order to intercept any further transmission of the virus.
The clock must not be turned back in Liberia. We must all continue to fight this virus with all the means at our disposal, including strictly obeying all the rules and measures, reporting the simplest symptoms, doing all in our power to avert a resurgence of the virus.
All of us are individually and collectively responsible to continue the vigorous and relentless fight to make Liberia Ebola-free.