BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – After 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were discovered at the Liberian Agricultural Company’s hospital, health authorities in Grand Bassa shut down the facility over the past weekend.
A team of health workers was deployed at the plantation to sanitize the hospital, which has now been converted to an isolation facility.
“We shut down the hospital because we don’t want to put the lives of the people at risk,” said Dr. Anthony Tucker, the county health officer.
“The hospital has [an] isolation unit and those who have been confirmed will go there. If the number increases, we will use the entire hospital as isolation.”
Patients who were previously being treated at the hospital have been discharged. Those with conditions that are more critical have been transferred to the Liberian Government Hospital to continue their treatment.
Residents of the district who rely on the hospital for treatment are now being asked to go to nearby clinics or to visit the Liberian Government Hospital in Buchanan to seek medical treatment.
Meanwhile, Tucker acknowledges the negative impact closing the hospital will have on the healthcare system of the district; however, he notes that the decision was made out of necessity.
“We are doing everything possible to contain the virus in the district,” he said. “When the virus is contained and the patients recover as soon as possible and are thoroughly observed, we will open the hospital to the public again.”
The Incident Command System, which is handling the medical response to the virus in the county, has launched contact tracing at the plantation to determine the persons who came in close contact with the confirmed cases.
Of the 73 high-risk contacts generated by the index case at the LAC plantation, 17 have been confirmed positive, 25 negative, 3 misplaced, and the rest are still pending.
Grand Bassa now has a total of 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 10 recoveries, 17 active cases, and no deaths.
On local radio call-in shows, the panic and confusion among Grand Bassa residents are palpable. Callers to a Buchanan community radio show on Wednesday blamed the government for lifting the state of emergency when cases were still being reported. Others blamed their fellow citizens for not wearing masks in public places or avoiding large crowds. Some expressed doubts that the virus was back in the county weeks after all of Grand Bassa’s cases had recovered.
Featured photo by Sampson David