Fighting Ebola Again

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The unknown, menacing monster is upon us again. The only thing we know about it is that it kills and disrupts the lives of people and society.

Our Health Correspondent, Alaskai Moore Johnson, has written about the new Ebola attack on Cowfield, Du Port Road. Several members of the Gbotee family have been afflicted, beginning with their son, Nathan, who has now died, followed by Nathan, Sr., and most probably the mother. Young Nathan succumbed to the disease on Monday, November 23rd after being diagnosed EVD positive on November 19th.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), led by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, acted swiftly by transferring the father, son and other close family members to the ELWA Ebola Treatment Unit to undergo treatment and observation.

A key point our readers missed in Alaskai’s story is how did young Nathan catch the virus? It most certainly was not through sex, because he was only 10. So what happened?

Did he come in contact with an infected person? Who was that, and where did the person come from? Where did he or she go? If it was from a person, it is imperative to find that person, otherwise he or she would go on spreading the virus to unsuspecting others, and soon, the disease would be full blown in Liberia again. That would be a dangerous set back for a country still reeling from the economic and psychosocial impact of Ebola, which was devastating.

We think the MOH should, while dealing urgently with the cases at hand, attach equal urgency to finding the source of this new outbreak and bring it quickly under control before it spreads further.

In addition, MOH should make immediate contact with all the other survivors to ensure that they are experiencing no after effects or recurrence of the disease; in which case, they should be called in immediately and served the countermeasures that will immediately contain the disease and prevent it from spreading further.

In addition, MOH and the Incident Management Unit should resume, as a matter of urgency, the reinstitution of all preventive measures—hand-washing, observing strict hygiene in homes, neighborhoods and around the country. Now that MOH no longer has “social welfare” under its umbrella, whichever agency of government responsible for sanitation—most likely Public Works and Water and Sewer—should get busy and start cleaning up every nook and cranny of the country and, of course, getting all the county, city and town administrators and leaders involved in this urgent exercise, so as to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the country again.

We have seen banks in Monrovia maintaining the practice of hand-washing before admitting customers to their premises; but we do not see the same thing in government offices and schools, nor do we see homes continuing strictly to observe the hand-washing practice. A few homes are still doing it, yes, but so many have stopped, and this may be the reason people are being continually exposed to the virus.

It is certainly easy for us to resettle into our old habits of avoiding strict hygiene; but given the terrible experiences we have had with this menacing epidemic, it is advisable for every citizen and resident to behave as though the virus is still with us—indeed it is, as we have seen with the Cowfield family—and observe every measure to satisfy ourselves that we are doing our part to repel (drive back, fend off) this deadly virus.

What else can we say? Perhaps there is one more thing that the Ministry of Health and the entire government and people of Liberia may do to keep our country safe. We need to put up our guard, our searchlight, whatever, to detect the source—any source—of this Ebola virus. Where is it coming from, who, if anyone, is visiting us with this deadly virus and how, and do everything possible to drive it from our country and people.

Otherwise, if there is anyone that is involved, that person or group of persons or nation or group of nations will always strike us with it – just when we seem to be recovering and trying to regain our stability and make progress in Liberia.

Our scientists, our security apparatus and every individual Liberian—all of us— should keep our eyes wide open and take nothing for granted, if we must keep this lethal menace at bay and drive it far from our shores.

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