Health Workers Represent 28 Percent of COVID-19 Infection Rate in Liberia

According to the April 19 update, 28 health workers have been confirmed positive for coronavirus with over 200 health workers contacts

MONROVIA – Liberia’s fragile health sector which is still struggling to lift itself from the devastation of the Ebola Virus Disease which killed hundreds of health workers risk slipping back into wreckage as 28 health workers have been confirmed positive for coronavirus.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), healthcare workers caring for patients with Ebola were among those at the highest risk for contracting the disease. From the start of the outbreak through November 2015, a total of 881 confirmed health worker infections were reported in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, and there were 513 reported deaths. Liberia lost 8% of its doctors, nurses, and midwives to Ebola; Sierra Leone and Guinea lost 7% and 1% of their healthcare workers, respectively.

And as coronavirus rages through Liberia with a current data of 99 confirmed cases, health workers comprise 28 percent of the overall infection rate.

The highlighted portion of the April 19 situation report shows the number of health workers confirmed positive for coronavirus. Most of these infected health workers contracted the virus while attending to patients

There are also 221 health workers as contacts – 209 in Montserrado and 12 in Nimba County.

Health workers in the country have complained of inadequate supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) thereby exposing them to high risk of contracting the deadly virus.

Last week, a COVID-19 responder, Murphy V. Dolbah, who was conducting tests on suspected and quarantined cases at Palm Springs Hotel died at the 14 Military Hospital after contracting the virus.

Murphy may have contracted the virus from the quarantine center at Palm Springs, an official familiar with the situation but not clothed with the authority to speak on it told FrontPageAfrica Saturday.

Also, over the weekend the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital confirmed that two persons – the human resource manager and an intern doctor – tested positive for coronavirus.

The highlighted portion of this April 19 situation report shows the number of health workers who are being observed for coming into contact with COVID-19 infected persons

The John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center over the weekend that two of its staff tested positive for COVID-19, thereby, temporarily closing the Liberia-Japan Maternity Hospital for fumigation. JFK’s administration stated in an April 16 announcement: “Disinfection of the Maternity hospital is mandatory due to positive COVID-19 testing conducted on two maternity health workers, both of whom have been taken to the treatment center. The JFK is complying with MOH and NPHIL guidelines for contact tracing and surveillance procedures.”

FrontPageAfrica gathered case 0 at the JFK is a pregnant nurse working for the hospital but had gone for regular prenatal checkup. It is believed that she exposed the second case, a resident doctor, to the virus unknowingly.

A source at the JFK Hospital that contrary to the 24-hour time frame, it took NPHIL 5 days to submit her COVID-19 test result which came up positive, thereby, exposing more people to the virus through her prior to her going into quarantine.

On Monday, resident doctors at the JFK Hospital, the country’s biggest referral hospital, began a protest by staying from all clinical activities at the main hospital and the maternity center due to their disappointment over the manner and form JFK administration handled the case of an exposed Resident to the Covid-19 while on duty, FrontPageAfrica has gathered.

The resident doctors, through a communication, had expressed to the administration their concerns over the exposure of their colleagues to COVID-19 positive individuals, making them high-risk cases, and applying no efforts to have them properly quarantined, rather sending them home to their families, thereby, putting their families at risk, too.

Liberian map showing the distribution of infection in various counties across the country.

Sources within the JFK informed FrontPageAfrica that JFK administration failed to provide support for the resident that was exposed to the individual who tested positive. 

“The Residents in general are utterly disappointed by this development. This is yet another classic indication that the administration of JFK does not take serious the wellbeing of Residents at her institution. This attitude of carelessness and neglect meted against a colleague who became exposed while on duty at JFK strongly reaffirms that the safety, protection and support of ALL Residents during these periods of crisis cannot be guaranteed by the administration of JFK. We believe that Resident(s) who unfortunately might be hazardously exposed and or contract this disease while serving JFK might be treated similarly or even worst by the JFK administration. This is unacceptable!” a copy the communication expressing their concerns stated.