Monrovia - The news about the death of Liberia’s only known Ebola patient came as a shock to her family over the weekend and they are still trying to understand why their relative did not survive the disease.
Many had hoped that like many other Ebola Survivors, ‘Ma Ruth’ as they know that her would return to them after her treatment at the Ebola Treatment Unit. Many of the family members were hopeful that the fact that the disease is no longer a death sentence, they would have hugged their relative during her discharge from the ETU.
“None of us were thinking that she would die. We are devastated,” said Family spokesperson Foday Kromah in a telephone interview with FrontPageAfrica on Sunday. He said the family first got the news of the death of Ruth Tugbeh, 44, through the local media and said they were in total shock. He said despite news of her death members of the household in which she lived in the Caldwell area are taking the preventive measures including regular temperature checks.
“We are devastated; we got the news on Saturday and everyone here is sad. We are just trying to hang in there,” said Kromah. “This morning we did the regular temperature checks and everything is normal. We do not have any sick person here.” The head of the Incident Management System and Assistant Health Minister Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah on Sunday officially announced the passing of Tugbeh at a news conference in Monrovia.
“The only known and lone confirmed Ebola Case in Liberia died on Friday, 27, 2015. Our hearts are saddened by the loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family,” said Nyenswah. Minister Nyenswah told journalists on Sunday that the patient presented to Redemption Hospital Emergency Triage on Thursday, March 19 at 9:4t with fever (38.1C) and reported Fatigue and Diarrhea.
He said based on the Blood analysis that found that confirmed the woman had Ebola on Friday, March 20, 2015, she was initially admitted to the ETU previously run by the medical humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) but was transferred to the Monrovia Medical Unit jointly run by the ministry of health and the United States Public Health Services (USPHS). The patient later died on Friday, March 27 at the facility in the morning.
With only nine days since the last confirmed case, Liberia is bracing for the worst but the government has reassured citizens that it has the capacity to handle any new case of the deadly disease.
“As of today, Sunday, March 29, 2015, there is not a single confirmed Ebola case in Liberia. All 211 contacts of the last patient are line listed with intensive contact tracing ongoing for 21 days observation to detect possible chains of transmission,” said Minister Nyenswah. “Community engagement is prominent in the affected sector 2, Caldwell area. Our surveillance system remains fully functional to pick up suspected cases in all 15 counties.”
Commenting on the issues surrounding how the patient became infected with the deadly virus, Minister Nyenswah said the investigation is still ongoing into speculations that she may have become infected after having sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor.
He said previous data indicates that sexual transmission of Ebola Virus is possible and new information indicates that sexual transmission may have occurred, but remains unproven. He said additional tests are being undertaken to investigate this possibility further. “The government/MoH reaffirms that Ebola survivors should continue to abstain from sex or to observe safe sex through correct and consistent condom use for a minimum of three months,” he said.
“However, for greater security, public health, good and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections, Ebola survivors should consider correct and consistent use of condoms for all sexual acts beyond three months, until more information is available. All survivors, their partners and families must be shown respect, dignity and compassion.”
He said the IMS psychosocial team is taking all reasonable measures to avoid stigmatization of survivors. Minister Nyenswah urged Liberians to promote the demonstration of respect, dignity and compassion explain and promote the use of condoms. “The Incident Management System is appealing to all Liberians to observe the preventive and public measures to stop Ebola,” he said.