“I feel very, very depressed and very odd, because I was to start driving school this week and this thing happened all of a sudden. I feel so depressed right now about this 21-day quarantine,” Angie Tina Dennis resident of Caldwell area where Ebola Patient is from.
Monrovia - Liberia’s latest Ebola case continues to send shockwaves across the country, even though the Government of Liberia has moved to allay fears that the recent case diagnosed in the Caldwell Community from a patient could spread further. Liberia’s current Ebola nightmare which has so far killed over 4,000 people started as a single case in Foya, Lofa County before spreading to the rest of the country.
Liberia’s woes began this time last year when a lady who travelled from Lofa to Monrovia and onward to the Firestone Rubber plantation area became the first carrier of the disease from the hotspot of Lofa to the rest of the country. That single case has led to over four thousand deaths across the country.
Incapacity marred first Response
Effectively tracing the contacts of the lady was difficult as the woman unidentified rode a vehicle with other passengers on the journey from Lofa, boarding another vehicle to Firestone and riding motorbikes to other locations before arriving at her final destination. Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale announced at the time that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was doing everything to trace all the contacts and handle the situation, with a call on the public to help provide information to health care workers.
Within weeks of the lady travel from Lofa, cases of Ebola started increasing in Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado County, resulting in an uncontrollable outbreak. The aftermath of the one case of Ebola from Foya has become what is now known as the worst ever outbreak of the virus in human history.
Ebola, one-year memory
Liberia endured a turbulent one year after the Foya case and the country was now gearing up for the celebrations, counting the days to be declared Ebola free when a new case emerged from the Caldwell Community on the Bushrod Island. Fear grips the entire Monrovia following the pronouncement about the new confirmed case, judging from the Foya case one year ago, but the Liberian government moved to quell any fear.
At a news conference in Monrovia Monday, Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson and Dr. Francis Kateh Deputy Head of the Ebola Incidence Management System both expressed that there is no need to worry about the new confirmed case. Dr. Kateh providing an update on the new case said there is no need to panic as the health team is working to handle the single case.
Said Dr. Kateh: “There is no need for the public to be in a panic mode, they need to have confidence in us. When people said Ebola would have been a nightmare, the public stood with us and we succeeded to get to where we are today”. Deputy Minister Jackson speaking at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism press briefing on the new Ebola case held Monday described as a sad event the discovery of the new case.
“We were getting close to the finishing line when this sad event occurred”, said Deputy Minister Jackson. He described the condition of the only patient as stable and said she is being administered the best treatment. “Her condition is stable, she is receiving the best care, we are making sure that she survives to tell her story”, Dr. Kateh said. According to him the Health Ministry and Ebola team are investigating the source of the new case.
Dr. Kateh disclosed that the lover of the patient, an Ebola survivor whom it is being speculated might have had sex with the lady, thereby infecting her had gone over 100 days and it is too early to accuse him of infecting the woman. “This person has passed over 100 days since he left the ETU, so going into his area to say whatever we can to blackmail his person is wrong”, he said.
The role of the Health ministry, he indicated is to break any transmission chain to prevent further spread of the virus. With this case coming from the very populated area of Caldwell, many Liberians fear that the disease could spread further if the right measures are not taken to curb it. Paradise Young General Supervisor for the Caldwell Ebola Task Force believes that the surfacing of the new case is a setback to all the efforts made in the response.
“The new case poses a very serious threat to the citizens of this particular community and the community dwellers are really embarrassed in the manner in which the case happened,” he said. “We are recalling over a hundred immediate contacts… if it is not tackled immediately, it would cause a very serious problem here. I am disappointed and this means a very heavy setback for Liberia.
Angie Tina Dennis was about to begin her driving lessons this week, but cannot because she is quarantined with the rest of the people who reside in the compound where the new Ebola patient lives. “I feel very, very depressed and very odd, because I was to start driving school this week and this thing happened all of a sudden. I feel so depressed right now about this 21-day quarantine,” she said. Many Liberians hope that the government would do everything to control this new infection from spreading further to avoid another round of serious outbreak.