Liberia: Nimba County’s ‘First’ Coronavirus Case Marred by Hauling and Pulling

The Jackson Fiah Doe hospital in Tappita, Nimba County

Tappita, Nimba County – Health authorities in Nimba County, mainly at the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial Hospital, recently announced that a 42-year-old man died on April 3, 2020 in Tappita, Lower Nimba County was a result of the Covid-19. The passing of the man, put Nimba on the record for a case of the virus with other counties including Montserrado and Margibi.

Report by Franklin Doloquee, Contributor

The deceased, (Peters, not his real name) is said to have entered Liberia from the United States on Feb. 28, 2020, and travelled to Tappita City on March 1, 2020.

Peters had come to marry the love of his. It was during the course of preparation for the dowry payment, he reportedly fell off in the bathroom and was rushed to the Jackson Fiah Doe Hospital where he died on arrival.

According to Dr. Philip Sahr, head of Nimba County Health Team, specimen from the 42-year-old was taken and tested and result showed that he was positive of the coronavirus disease thereby registering Nimba’s first case.

However, family sources have dispelled this report by the Nimba County Health Team and termed it as false. Peters’ family say at first the medical authority at the JFD said their deceased relative was negative, but after some hours came back again to announce that the deceased was positive; something that makes others besides the family members to contest the presence of virus in the county.

According to the families, they think their relative had died from poison and not from Covid-19.

Some rumormongers had that Peters had left his wife with whom he had fathered children and engaged another woman whose fiancé or husband was in town on the day of dowry payment. His children’s mother was also said to be around, too.

According to them, Peters was well throughout the time of the marriage preparation and from the day he entered Tappita, but fell ill suddenly to their surprise.

Physical symptoms of the virus is said to comprise sneezing and coughing for days before attacking the lungs to turn severe, but the families say not any of such signs was seen on the deceased.

Instead, he is reported to have come down with cold that made him to chill and sweat profusely, and while using the bathroom he fell off in the process thus leading them to take him to the hospital and he died along the way.  

Several health workers assigned at the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial Hospital including the Assistant Administrator, Ebenezer Strother, who was the first person to interact with the deceased, are being quarantined.

Also family members and the motorcyclist, who help transported Peters to the hospital are now quarantined as the hospital is completely emptied due to fear that other patients at the facility may have the virus, too.

Despite the situation, people in Nimba, especially the busy city of Ganta, continued their normal activities until pronouncement by President George Weah for a state of emergency when residents started purchasing basic commodities including rice in huge quantities on Thursday, April 9, to store for the three weeks the state of emergency is to last for.

Others were purchasing and leaving Ganta for the villages for fear that during the course of the state of emergency situation may turn tough for people in cities in terms of hunger.

Inspite of all of this happenings, there are some who are in denial that the virus is not in the county and country at large and that the confirmed cases are just a strategy to draw the international community’s attention to Liberia to provide money.

As of 2pm Saturday, April 10th afternoon, the streets of Ganta were emptied when the 3 pm schedule to leave the streets had arrived.

Nevertheless, other activities of gathering considered by tradition as sacred like the Sande School continues to go on in Lao Clan in District #8 and Garr Clan in District #2. Unofficial statistics have it that there are over 5000 women and girls presently attending the bush school in the county.

Meanwhile, Dr. Philip Sahr of Nimba County Health Team has said that since the outbreak of the virus in the county, they are yet to have a holding center.

Dr. Sahr disclosed that Saclepea and Kpain Town in Electoral Districts 7 and 8 have been identified for use by the government as holding centers, but no funding has been provided to prepare the areas.