MONROVIA – It is becoming evidential that Liberians are winning the war against the ruthless coronavirus disease as the government has declared that the country is now free of COVID-19 cases.
Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, told a press conference in Monrovia last Thursday that Liberia no longer has active cases of the virus—all of the treatment units across the country are now empty. She added that the last six patients have been discharged and sent home.
“As of today, October 21, 2021, there is no covid-19 case in treatment unit across the country,” the minister said at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing.
“The last six persons have been discharged and sent home where they will be monitored and given home-based care. Two of these are in Montserrado County and four in Maryland County. This means they are okay and not in critical condition which is good.”
This news comes just months ago when hospitals, including the nation’s premier referral facility, John F. Kennedy (JFK), began overwhelmed with cases amid lack of space and logistics.
Health Minister Jallah announced at a cabinet meeting those hospitals were overwhelmed with patients due to surging cases of the new COVID-19 variant. She said 257 cases were recorded from June 11 to the 18th, while 196 cases reported within four days (June 14-18).
“Hospitals are currently full of people experiencing breathing difficulties,” she told the meeting that was chaired by President George Manneh Weah back then.
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a release, warned its citizens to avoid Liberia due to the severity of the outbreak here.
“We have been making tremendous effort in the fight against pandemic as a country, and this is reflected in the level of progress we are seeing now.” Minister Jallah said at last week conference. “We want to be thankful to everyone Liberian and those residing in Liberia for responding to the health mandate,” she said.
The Incident Management System (IMS), which oversees the country’s fight against the pandemic, reported drastic decline of new cases for the past few weeks.
Liberia experienced its worst period of the coronavirus pandemic in May and early July of 2020, with the emergence of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic of the infectious Delta variant.
The country recorded 63 deaths during this period. The number of cases also increased by 3,254. A staggering 219 of those cases were recorded on July 3 alone, the highest daily surge of the virus since the pandemic started early last year.
A total of 287 people has died of the virus, while 5,518 persons have recovered from a total of 5, 0811 confirmed cases, according to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) statistics.
IMS received barrage of criticisms during the height of the pandemic in June from stakeholders both at home and in the diaspora for the response mechanisms.
The stakeholders called for structural changes in the national response team if Liberia was to stand any chance of beating back the outbreak—while urging the government to outsource the management of its coronavirus-testing information system after reports of bribery and extortion by healthcare workers began to emerge.
NPHIL announced on its Facebook page it was reviewing its testing and result-processing methods as it believes some of their staff was engaged in fraud, such as swapping of COVID-positive samples.
Minister Jallah, in a gratified mood, lauded healthcare workers across the country, especially those at Covid-19 treatment units, for their sacrifices that are now yielding tangible results.
She credited Liberians for the tremendous progress. “We are grateful to Liberians for positively responding to the health guidelines. This has helped to bring cases down. We pray that we all continue to abide by those regulations,” she said.
The Minister urged everyone to continue to wear facemasks at all times in public and ensure physical distance of a minimum of three feet from each other in public. She also emphasized frequent washing of hands, or the use of sanitizer must adhere to.
In order to ensure that the country meets its vaccination goals, Dr. Jallah said Liberians need to come out in their numbers to get their jabs. She appealed to the citizenry to take the exercise very seriously to enable the country to meet the World Health Organization global vaccination target of 40 percent by December 31, 2021.
The minister warned that the government will have no alternative but to impose another regulation that would mandate people who have not taken any of the COVID-19 vaccines to get vaccinated.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) through the Mobilizing Media against COVID-19 in partnership with FrontPage Africa