‘I’m Positive’: Liberia’s Information Minister Reveals Result of Second COVID-19 Test
Monrovia – Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, has become the latest high-profile official in President George Manneh Weah’s government to test positive for the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister called FrontPageAfrica early Tuesday morning to break the news. He had told FPA Monday that a first test had come back negative on Tuesday.
“I was informed last night by the health authorities that a second test of my specimen came out positive. I am now at the 14 Military Hospital,” the minister said.
His results come barely 48 hours after Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean also tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was informed last night by the health authorities that a second test of my specimen came out positive. I am now at the 14 Military Hospital.”Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Information Culture Affairs & Tourism
Minister Nagbe, was last seen in public last Thursday, April 23, 2020, sitting behind President Weah during the President’s virtual extraordinary session of the Authority of Ecowas Heads of State, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on member states. Foreign Minister Gbezohnga Findley and Presidential Advisor Emmanuel Shaw were also at the appearance.
The President said at the time that in spite of the vigilance, Liberia recorded its index case on March 16, 2020. Today, as we speak we have experienced 103 confirmed cases, 75 are active cases, 20 recoveries and 8 deaths.”
Five days later those numbers increased to 133 confirmed cases and 16 deaths while 676 are being traced.
On Monday, Health authorities confirmed the testing of thirty-one senior government officials with three being confirmed positive of COVID-19, many of those were in the April 11 meeting of senior security officials’ briefing on the deadly virus in Liberia.
Speaking at a news conference in Monrovia Monday, National Public Institute of Liberia Director General Dr. Mosoka Fallah said, the thirty-one senior government officials came in contact with the late LDEA boss Marcus Soko, stating that, members of the joint security including their families are currently being tested and monitored.
The meeting presided over by Justice Minister Dean also included representatives from the Ministry of National Defense, the National Security Agency(NSA), the Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, the National Security Advisor to the President; representatives from the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Executive Committee on Corona Virus (ECOC), headed by Broh and Senators Steven Zargo(Liberty Party, Lofa), Jonathan L. Kaipay(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) and Conmany Wisseh(Unity Party, River Gee). Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe was also in attendance.
Senator Wesseh told FPA Monday that he along with Senators Zargo and Kaipay were in attendance in the April 11 meeting but only for 15 minutes. The Senator said he took his test Sunday and is still awaiting his results. Major General Prince Johnson, Chief of Staff of the Army, also confirmed to FPA that he too was in the meeting on April 11, but first tests have come back negative.
Johnson told FPA Monday the testing “was based on the death of Mr. Marcus Soko, head of the Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA) and those of us that attended the meeting decided to do the tests yesterday(Sunday).”
An eyewitness who was present said many of those in attendance at the April 11 meeting did not wear facemasks or protective gears.
Over the last 72 hours at least four officials who were present in that meeting, held on April 11, tested positive for the killer virus.
The late DEA boss Soko, who had been symptomatic and ailing for nearly a week at his home, until he was rushed to the 14th Military Hospital late last Thursday night where he was pronounced dead.
When Soko’s symptoms began to worsen, he reportedly contacted his deputy, Marcus Zeahyoue and Col. Marvin Sackor, Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations, who escorted him. Col. Sackor reportedly drove a separate police vehicle, escorting Soko and his deputy to the 14 Military Hospital. But Soko, would not make it and was already dead before they made it to the hospital.
FPA has also learned that in the aftermath of Soko’s death, authorities are tracking a clinic in the Soul Clinic area visited by the late DEA boss, days before his death in hopes of finding contacts who may have come in touch with him.
Late Sunday night, Justice Minister Dean, who presided over the April 11 meeting was tested positive for the virus.
The minister broke the news to FPA via his mobile phone from the 14 Military Hospital, stating that he had been informed by Dr. Mosoko Fallah, head of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) that his results came back positive. “I am hopeful. The doctors at 14 Military Hospital are very professional and doing their best,” Minister Dean told FPA. “Remember, the virus is posing a challenge to even developed countries, with far more sophisticated health systems. At the moment, no one knows everything about the virus. We must continue to observe the health protocols, especially as it relates to social distancing.”
Since Minister Dean’s positive result, a senior official of the LNP, 101, Sadatu Reeves, who was also in attendance in the meeting presided over by Dean, had test results come back positive for the virus. Soko’s deputy, Zeahyoue has also tested positive while Col. Sackor, who escorted Soko to the hospital is said to be in quarantine awaiting his results.
The wave of infections tied to that April 11 meeting intricates the far-reaching depth of Mr. Soko’s cluster within the joint security apparatus. If Minister Dean, who is the chief legal advisor to the presidency has tested positive, who else is at risk?
FrontPageAfrica has learned that with the exception of Dean, the late Soko, Reeves and Zeahyoue, results of the first test on most of the others who were in attendance have come back negative. One medical official however said, a second test is being carried out before a complete evaluation can be announced.
As head of the Joint Security briefing, the minister is required to brief the President on the security situation in the country.
Currently, Justice Minister and head of the Joint Security, Musa Dean is undergoing treatment at the 14th military hospital following confirmation that he came down positive of covid-19 after interacting with the deceased LDEA boss.