LIBERIA: COVID-19 Hitting Healthcare Workers Hard; Intervention Needed to Save Lives

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AS MEMBERS of both houses of the national legislature debate President George Manneh Weah’s stimulus package for the State of Emergency declaration, they must also keep in mind what is unfolding so as to adequately include packages for those at the frontlines of this deadly pandemic, the doctors, the nurses and each and every healthcare workers battling the front lines to save lives and return the sick and ailing back to good health.

LIKE EVERY COUNTRY where the deadly COVID-19 has hit, healthcare workers have become easy preys and targets for infections.

LIBERIA APPEARS to be joining the fray as more and more healthcare workers are falling prey to the killer virus.

We have no control over the environment in which the staff live or in which they stay or what they do after work. What we heard was that our HR, he came to us and said, he needs to go and do his test because his son is always moving around… he went on Monday for his test, Tuesday in the evening he called that he was tested positive.” 

Brother Peter Dawoh, Administrator, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital

THE ST. JOSEPH’s Catholic Hospital and Redemption Hospital, two healthcare institutions that took a lot of hits during the 2014 deadly Ebola virus outbreak appear to be bracing themselves as cases are beginning to pile up.

EVEN THE NATIONAL PUBLIC Health Institute, the nerve center for controlling disease and viruses in Liberia was forced to shut down for 24 hours this week for fumigation. 

IN A MESSAGE TO STAFFERS a day after one of its own was tested positive, NPHIL wrote: 

Dear Colleagues, hope this email finds you well. This email is to inform the NPHIL staff that Mr. Benjamin Soko has tested positive of COVID-19. He was tested positive on Friday, April 10, 2020. He was sent for testing at the SKD under the alias of Benjamin C. Tokofo. As a result of him using an alias name, administration found out the true identity of Mr. Soko on the evening of Sunday, April 12, 2020.

As part of maintaining a safe workplace and protecting others is to encourage our staff to report for any COVID-19 related symptoms. It is also, our duty to keep our staff informed in order to keep them safe.

The IPC team under Mr. Philip Bemah will be conducting the risk assessment. 

All staffs working in the response will be contacted on Wednesday to begin the Risk Assessment High risk contact will be sent to do their COVID-19 laboratory test. 

Finally, as preventive measures, NPHIL, EOC has been fumigated today and will be closed for the next 24 hours.

AT CATHOLIC, the doctor who was recently infected and tested positive is an intern Doctor who contracted the COVID 19 from nurses that were treating him at the Redemption hospital. 

FRONTPAGEAFRICA has learned that the intern doctor did not get it from Catholic Hospital even though the Human Resource Director there tested positive also. 

BROTHER PETER DAWOH, Administrator, St. Joseph Catholic Hospital told FrontPageAfrica Wednesday that they have no control over the environment in which the staff live or in which they stay or what they do after work. What we heard was that our HR, he came to us and said, he needs to go and do his test because his son is always moving around… he went on Monday for his test, Tuesday in the evening he called that he was tested positive.” 

REGARDING THE CASE of the intern, Brother Dawoh said: “The other guy, the intern – they are interns, we don’t have total control over them. What I learnt, he went to visit somebody, one of his relations in town and at one point, he came and said he was having some symptoms of malaria. He lost his sense of taste and smell and so that’s why he also voluntarily wen to do his test. Only for us to be informed but the surveillance team that these people proved positive so all the staff who interacted with them need to be tested or quarantined or investigated.”

SADLY, the nurses at Redemption are the same ones said to be working at the 14th Military Hospital, raising concerns that healthcare workers are transporting and transmitting the virus at rapid speed. 

THIS SUGGEST THAT there is a serious need for adequate PPE’s to prevent the spread by healthcare workers. 

MANY OF THOSE healthcare workers are becoming easy targets, especially without PPEs.

FPA HAS BEEN INFORMED that from Redemption, the same intern went to JFK for treatment and the doctor that treated him is now self-quarantined.

THE INTERN lives with his father who works at the Medical School with the Vice President of Health Sciences. No one knows if these people have been quarantined or not because both the National Public Health Institute and the Ministry of Health have stopped the naming of names of those infected. 

ANOTHER ISSUE on the horizon is the overcrowding of the Monrovia Central Prison. Many fear that if authorities fail to decongest the facility and rid prison cells of very minor offenses, the notorious prison could be a sitting duck waiting to be hit and any COVID outbreak there will be catastrophic.

LIKE THE USUAL Liberian way, no one talks about these things or say anything until something bad happens.

BESIDES CATHOLIC AND REDEMPTION, attention is now being drawn to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Clinic where a doctor who fell ill five days ago has been tested positive for COVID-19.

SAMPLES TAKEN from him and at least six relatives came back positive for COVID-19.

LIKE EBOLA, healthcare workers without the proper protection are at risk of being infected and infected others.

DR. MOSOKA FALLAH, HEAD of the NPHIL when contacted Wednesday said the lack of PPE’s is not an issue. “We have a quantity that can last us until we get the expected ones we are procuring.”

THE NPHIL BOSS said he is aware of the situation at Redemption and Catholic hospital and would pass on the information sent to him by FrontPageAfrica to the Montserrado county health team.

THE COVID-19, LIKE Ebola comes with ferocious strike. When Ebola came, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were unprepared and so it caught everyone off-guard. 

SIMILARLY, COVID-19 came with a vengeance. To date, 2, 078,144 have been infected while 134, 384 have died with 509, 856 recoveries.

THE GLOBAL IMPACT has been enormous. In Liberia, many are divided over whether the names of those infect should be called. As the cases continue to rise and the NPHIL takes its own time to release the numbers of infected, the lives of thousands of Liberians are at stake.

NPHIL WHICH is responsible for disease control in Liberia has been permeated by the virus. So has many small clinics, hospitals, homes, towns and villages across Liberia. 

IF WE FAIL to guard the healthcare workers who are the last line of defense for those seeking medical service and fail to arm them with the right protective gears, we risk escalating an already dangerous pandemic to an unprecedented level that could take us long to recover.

AS MEMBERS of both houses of the national legislature debate President George Manneh Weah’s stimulus package for the State of Emergency declaration, they must also keep in mind what is unfolding so as to adequately include packages for those at the frontlines of this deadly pandemic, the doctors, the nurses and each and every healthcare workers battling the front lines to save lives and return the sick and ailing back to good health.

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