Ebola resurfaces in Liberia
By Julu Swen, editor and publisher of West African Writers, an online publication about United Methodist happenings in West Africa and assists the denomination in Liberia with coverage for United Methodist Communications.
Three new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Liberia after the West African nation has been twice declared Ebola-free, according to Ministry of Health authorities.
In an official statement, Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health, said the new cases were discovered Nov. 19 when a patient visiting a local hospital had symptoms of Ebola. His blood tested positive for the virus.
Three other people whom he had close contact with were also hospitalized and isolated.
Authorities at the Ministry of Health are now working with the health team of Montserrado County, the county in which the capital city of Liberia is located, to investigate and isolate people with probable contact with the patient.
The new outbreak occurred in the Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, and has now created new wave of panic among residents of the city of Monrovia, according to news reports.
Dr. Francis Kateh, Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, said mechanisms have been put into place to avert the danger that could come with this outbreak. He indicated that the Ministry of Health and community leaders in the Paynesville area have set up a Precautionary Observation Center where individuals who are certified by the team of investigators will be asked to remain indoor in the community for 21 days while food and other needed goods will be provided for them by the government.
“Only those who are considered high risk will be taken to the official holding center for observation,” he said.
Kateh participated in the Ebola vaccines trial process last February. He said the ministry is investigating the origin of the present outbreak to determine whether this is a new Ebola strand or the one that is already in Liberia.
“Through gene sequencing we are going to determine which Ebola strand constitutes the present outbreak,” he said.
Liberia was declared Ebola free in May and then again in September. More than 4,800 people have died from Ebola in Liberia since the outbreak in 2014. Liberia has been the county hardest hit by the outbreak.