Liberia: 2019 Novel Coronavirus Has Now Hit Closer to Home; Are We Ready Just in Case?

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THE 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS, which has now entered Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and West Africa’s most powerful nation, is the first in Sub-Sahara, which includes Liberia. 

THIS IS SCARING because there are a lot of movements between Liberia and Nigeria. There are hundreds of Nigerians, who between both nations; even most Liberian traders, too, are between nations. They usually do their travels by land and air.

LET’S BE CLEAR, officially, no Nigerian has been diagnosed nor has any Liberian, with the 2019 novel coronavirus, which is now named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease, which is associated with SAR-CoV-2 is referred to as COVID-19.

IT IS AN ITALIAN MAN who has been confirmed to be Nigeria’s first Covid-19 patient. He arrived in that country on February 24. Scarily, he had spent almost two days and had gone through some states, after he arrived from Milan, Italy. He has now been isolated under quarantine. 

HEALTH AUTHORITIES in Nigeria, a country of over 200 million people, are now struggling to trace everyone, who came in direct contact with this European. His country is presently the worst hit in Europe.

COUNTRY OF THIS size and such huge population, it’s not easy to do contact tracing. But we trust the authority of that country. 

WHILE WE ARE TRUSTING in those people’s ability to handle this very grave situation in their country, what concerns us most is what adequate measures have folks in our health authorities, put in place to tackle Covid-19 just in case it enters Liberia.

IT IS VERY POSSIBLE that that Italian man, who now is reportedly the third confirmed persons in Africa, might have come in direct contact with Nigerians, who are between both Nigeria and Liberia or even Liberians, who travel both ways, too. 

AMONG MEASURES TO stop the virus from entering their countries, some nations including Kenya in Africa, have temporarily suspended flights from China; even though Kenya hasn’t reported any case of the virus.

CORONAVIRUSES ARE viruses that circulate among animals but some of them are also known to affect humans. After they have infected animals, they can eventually be transmitted to humans.  

A WIDE RANGE of animals is known to be the source of coronaviruses. For instance, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) originated from camels and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originated from civet cats.

AT THIS POINT, there is too little data available to say with certainty how severe COVID-19 is but preliminary findings indicate that it is less fatal than SARS coronavirus.

WHILE ANIMALS are the source of the virus, this virus is now spreading from one person to another (human-to-human transmission). There is currently not enough epidemiological information to determine how easily and sustainably this virus spreads between people. The virus seems to be transmitted mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale.

THE INCUBATION PERIOD for COVID-19 is currently estimated at between two and 14 days. At this stage, scientists know that the virus can be transmitted when those infected show (flu-like) symptoms. However, there are still uncertainties as to whether mild or asymptomatic cases can transmit the virus.

FROM WHAT HEALTH authorities know so far, the virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pain in the muscles and tiredness.

MORE SERIOUS CASES develop severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and septic shock that can lead to the death of the patient. People with existing chronic conditions seem to be more vulnerable to severe illness.

GENERALLY, ELDERLY people and those with underlying conditions (e.g. hypertension, heart disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and respiratory disease) are expected to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms.

AT THE MOMENT, there is no specific treatment for this disease so the approach used to treat patients with coronavirus-related infections is to treat the clinical symptoms. Supportive care from health facilities can be highly effective for those infected.

TO STAY HEALTHY, when visiting areas with presumed ongoing transmission, the World Health Organization urges all to avoid contact with sick people, in particular those with a cough; avoid visiting markets and places where live or dead animals are handled; follow general rules governing hand hygiene and food hygiene; wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based disinfectant solution before eating, after using the toilet and after any contact with animals; avoid contact with animals, their excretions or droppings.

TAKING A TRIP DOWN memory lane, we all know what the 2014 deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) did to our country. Whether we learned from it well, it’s hard to say. There are just too many things that could take us back and down. Are we ready just in case Covid-19 shows up? 

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