Phebe Hospital’s Suspected Coronavirus Case Tests Negative

GBARNGA, Bong – Liberia’s health minister, Wilhelmina Jallah, has announced that the test conducted on the specimen collected from a patient suspected of COVID-19 at Phebe Hospital has come out negative.

The specimen was collected last week and taken to Monrovia for testing because Phebe Hospital currently does not have the equipment to test for the virus.

“When we said 52 negative cases, the one from Phebe was included inside,” Dr. Jallah said on Saturday on ELBC Radio.

She appeared with Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, to provide the latest updates of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Liberia now has 13 cases and 3 deaths.

On the reported suspected case at Phebe, Nagbe said: “It is very important to harmonize how we inform the people. The [Incident Management System] did not announce any suspected case in Phebe. There was actually no case in Phebe.”

But the minister’s comment runs contrary to a previous comment made by the head of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and deputy of the Incident Management System, Dr. Mosoka Fallah.

Last Saturday, March 29, Dr. Fallah confirmed to The Bush Chicken that there was a suspected case at the Phebe Hospital.

He further said specimen was collected from the patient and transferred to Monrovia for testing and that the result would have been made known in 48 hours as of that Saturday. The result was, however, not pronounced until Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Nagbe, however, wants medical practitioners to report to the Incident Management System, the team managing the Coronavirus pandemic in Liberia, when they suspect patients showing signs and symptoms of the virus, instead of making public comments about suspected cases.

Phebe Hospital. Photo: Moses Bailey.

As of Sunday, neither NPHIL nor the Ministry of Health had spoken with the management of Phebe Hospital about the result of the test conducted on the patient’s specimen. The pronouncement that the test was negative was made on ELBC Radio.

“We have not heard from them. They have not told us anything and the patient is here. He is still showing some respiratory problems,” Phebe’s medical director, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, told The Bush Chicken.

Sibley had earlier announced that the hospital did not have the necessary equipment or drugs to treat patients and further called for assistance from the government, NGOs, and philanthropists.

The Coronavirus has infected more than 1.1 million people and killed more than 60,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Featured photo courtesy of Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Communications

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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