VOINJAMA, Lofa – A health worker at the Tellewoyan Memorial Hospital in Voinjama has tested positive of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Lofa to three.
According to Lofa’s county surveillance officer, Alpha Tamba, the third confirmed case is a health worker who was identified as a contact from the second case in the county.
“We had this individual classified as low risk and earlier, he was seen moving around the communities, which we think has placed a lot of people at risk,” Tamba said.
“High-risk individuals are placed in the precautionary observation center to be quarantined for 14 days, with education given them on how to handle food in the POC and also providing personal protective equipment for them.”
Tamba said the county had collected 38 samples from 98 contacts that are in the county. More than 20 health workers are among the contacts. Results are still trickling out from the National Reference Laboratory in Margibi.
The county surveillance officer urged Lofa residents to adhere to health protocols in order to prevent an escalation of the virus in Lofa.
“People must stop denying and doubting that COVID-19 is not in Lofa, and if denials continue, COVID-19 might escalate to be like Ebola in 2014,” he said.
Dr. John Doedah, Lofa’s county health officer, also added his voice, urging the public to follow the preventive rules and measures.
“If you continue to deny the presence of the virus in Lofa, then you are definitely vulnerable of becoming a victim,” Doedah said.
Around Voinjama, very few people can be seen wearing masks and social distancing rules are frequently not enforced.
Gayflor T. Kpezzie, one Voinjama resident, said too many people are just going about their normal business as if there is no COVID-19 in the county.
“Lofa authorities need to take action,” Kpezzie said. “And see, we have three confirmed cases – and if such denials continue, it will lead to serious challenges and allow the virus to infect many people. Liberians will suffer.”
Another Voinjama resident observed that at the early outbreak of the virus in the country, more people seemed to be following the preventative measures. However, as the government has moved the curfew from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Anthony Baysah said he has noticed people becoming more relaxed. The only measure he sees continuing is the frequent washing of hands.
“Most of the people in this place are not observing COVID-19 health protocols, and I think they are denying the presence of the virus in Lofa,” Baysah said.
Abraham Kollie, who lives in nearby Guwormai village, called the limited adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing “sad.”
Victor Boakai, the chief security of the circuit court in Lofa, sees an even more relaxed mood now.
“Even the lockdown is not being taken as important,” he said. “We see social gatherings after 6 p.m., which we know is not good.”
Juawana T. Sagulah attributes this relaxed attitude to poor enforcement by government officials. She notes that she has often seen authorities who should be enforcing the health protocols at entertainment centers, violating social distancing guidelines.
On May 30, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia announced an additional 8 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 288. Of that number, 157 persons have recovered, while 27 have died.
The numbers indicate that Liberia has not made a major impact in reducing the number of new cases or the active confirmed cases. However, the government has announced a relaxing of measures, including allowing places of worship to open (with a limit of 25 percent of their capacity) and extending the 3 p.m.
Featured photo by Kelvin Kollie