Dr. Kateh: Only US$500K of US$3 Million Provided to Fight Coronavirus

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, says the Liberian government has only provided US$500,000 of the US$3 million requested by the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

He did so during a March 24 appearance before the House of Representatives. Lawmakers had asked a selection of officials from various agencies to detail how prepared their respective agencies were to tackle Coronavirus in Liberia.

While he suggested that health authorities still needed more funding to properly contain the outbreak, Kateh informed lawmakers that the World Bank had approved US$1.5 million to support the government in the fight against the virus.

“This amount will help us get additional supplies, which will include testing kits to boost the government’s response,” he said.

Kateh explained that because the possible source of the third case has not been discovered yet, health authorities were prompted to partially lock down Montserrado and Margibi.

“Lenda Russ, the infected person was not a possible contact of Nathaniel Blama, Liberia’s Index case, and the person suspected to have been the carrier has been tested negative,” Kateh said, inexplicably revealing the names of the Coronavirus patients.

“Since Ms. Russ came in contact with several people in Montserrado and Margibi Counties, the carrier of the virus may likely be in one of the two counties and not be showing any symptoms.”

Kateh also noted that at the time of his presentation, 102 contacts of the third confirmed case had been isolated and 15 people in the suspect wards had been tested and proven negative.

“They will be re-tested and if the result is negative, they will be sent home to be monitored,” Dr. Kateh noted.

He emphasized that all three cases are stable and will be re-tested and when proven negative, will be discharged.

Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, who also presented to lawmakers on his ministry’s efforts to ensure preparedness for the Coronavirus, said he was working with importers to maintain price stability on the Liberian market.

Tarpeh disclosed that a team from the ministry would begin inspecting several businesses to prevent businesses from taking advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak to unreasonably increase prices of commodities on the market.

He added that some essential goods need to combat the spread of the virus, like plastic buckets and detergents, are made locally and producers have promised to maintain the current prices on the market.

Tarpeh did warn that the pandemic’s impact on disrupting global trade could result in future shortages in some imported commodities, including rice and oil. He noted that Liberia’s largest trading partners – Ivory Coast, Guinea, United States, China, and India – are also fighting the Coronavirus.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Liberia in Mass Communications and Sociology. She graduated from the Young Political Leadership School and has worked in the past for Farbric Radio, Freedom Radio, and Frontier newspaper.

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