Phebe Hospital Awaits Result of Suspected Coronavirus Case

SUAKOKO, Bong – The Bush Chicken has learned of the isolation of a male patient at Phebe Hospital in Suakoko. The patient is said to be showing signs and symptoms similar to that of the Coronavirus.

Phebe Hospital’s medical director, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, told The Bush Chicken on Saturday evening that the patient visited the hospital on Thursday and staff there suspected he had Lassa fever, which has similar symptoms as the Coronavirus, including cough, fever, and fatigue.

Sibley said the patient’s specimen was collected and sent to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia in Monrovia for testing since Phebe Hospital does not have the equipment to test for the Coronavirus.

“The patient came and we suspected Lassa [fever]. We took the specimen for the Lassa [fever] and sent it for testing yesterday. The patient is in isolation here,” Sibley said.

Meanwhile, the director-general of NPHIL, Dr. Mosoka Fallah, has confirmed to The Bush Chicken that the patient’s specimen is being tested and the result will be available in 48 hours.

Liberia currently has three confirmed cases of COVID-19 and on Saturday, NPHIL announced an additional suspected case.

NPHIL says the suspected case is a 22-year-old female in Grand Gedeh with “travel history from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.”

The Bush Chicken has spoken to several individuals who had been tested by NPHIL since Wednesday but had not received their test results yet. Insiders within the health sector had speculated that testing had been delayed because the government had run out of reagents, which is needed to test specimens. However, Fallah said reagents are now in the country for use to test the suspected cases.

“We got almost 20,000 reagents; we just got it from the Chinese,” Fallah said in a short telephone interview with The Bush Chicken. “So we are not out.”

He, however, did not say why it would take 48 hours to receive the results for the suspected case at Phebe Hospital, when in fact NPHIL said the first case of the virus in Liberia was confirmed 12 hours after the test was conducted.

Rumors about the suspected COVID-19 case at Phebe is causing panic among residents in the county. Last week, most churches suspended worship services as part of the government’s health protocols to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Bong’s superintendent, Esther Walker, warned owners of entertainment centers last week to close their doors beginning at 6:00 p.m. and to avoid large crowds.

“We know that the economy is hard, but we must respect what the medical people are saying to protect ourselves from this disease. We will not allow anyone to violate the health regulations put in place by the government,” Walker said in a live radio interview.

The Coronavirus has killed 30,846 persons out of 664,608 cases as of March 29, 2020, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the midst of the outbreak in Liberia, public hospitals and clinics in Bong lack basic materials like personal protective equipment, gloves, and masks.

Recently, Rep. Prince Moye of Bong’s second district and U.S.-based Liberian Dennis Garsinii made available separate donations of medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in the county to support health workers in the discharge of their duties.

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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