Liberia Records First Coronavirus Death as Cases Swell to 10

The Bush Chicken ebola

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Liberia has recorded its first Coronavirus death, as the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country increases to ten.

In a live interview on ELBC Radio on Saturday morning, Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah announced that the country had confirmed three additional cases of the virus, increasing the number of infected persons to ten, from seven on the previous day.

Jallah said the three new cases include a 72-year-old male patient who was in isolation at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville and two laboratory technicians from Aspen Medical International Liberia and EarlBert Medical Laboratory in Monrovia. She said the two lab technicians became infected through contact with the sixth case, who is the assistant minister for planning and programming at the Ministry of Public Works, James Reynolds.

“So, that tells that those who are running labs, you have to be careful because you do not know which patient is coming to you,” she said.

“The third individual is a 72-year-old male. He was in ELWA Hospital in the isolation ward. After his testing yesterday night, he expired this morning. So, this makes it three. Based on those three cases, two of them have a connection to case six. We are now tracing all of their contacts.”

She encouraged contacts of the new cases to report themselves at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, where a testing center has been established, to be tested for the virus.

The health minister did not further provide the identity of the newest patients, knowing that it was against professional ethics to do so, as the patients could be stigmatized.

However, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe insisted he would provide the names and places of work of the patients because the pandemic would threaten the country’s existence if allowed to continue to progress in the current form.

“So, I will call the people names, then I will take the responsibility because it will help the contact tracers,” he said.

“So, I have John Teah, the 72-year-old man who died at ELWA Hospital; we have Dorris [Prout], a lab technician at EarlBert Lab, and we have David Zinnah, a 42-year-old Liberian who is a lab technician at Aspen.”

The information minister insisted that there is no stigma associated with the Coronavirus and that people do not need to go into hiding when they can get treated for the virus. He said it was necessary to make full disclosure of patients’ identities because the pandemic is not a normal situation. He noted that world leaders and celebrities around the world who became infected have made their stories known and sought treatment.

With the new update, the minister disclosed that the president and a special presidential committee on the pandemic is currently reviewing the situation in the country and could institute stronger measures to enforce adherence to health protocols.

“There are people still converging in large groups,” he said. “There are people still not washing their hands; there are people still violating all of the protocols that the minister outlined in her statement. So, we should focus on enforcing those and creating more awareness.”

Featured photo courtesy of USAID

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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