Liberia Faces Potential Risk as Health Experts Yet to Determine Source of Third Covid-19 Case

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MONROVIA – The Executive Director-designate of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NHPIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah says the country is at potential risk as the source of the third case of Covid-19 remains unknown despite tireless efforts applied by health experts.

“Now, what we are thinking is that, is it possible that this friend on the 8th March was sharing the virus and by the time we met her had stopped sharing the virus? Or is it that this is an unknown person that gives the virus – who we don’t know,” said Dr. Fallah.

According to him, if the questions are not answered swiftly, “It gets risky for us as a country.”

So far, he said, 102 contacts have been identified from March 9 to the 19 as it relates to contact tracing of the third confirmed COVID-19 case in the country.

He added that people have also been traced from the third patient’s work place, while 36 have been traced from Aspen Medical – a hospital in Monrovia, where the patient sought treatment before she was later diagnosed for the virus. 

Ms. Lenda Russ, 63, Director of Finance and Administration at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, is the third person infected with the virus.

Russ’s son, according to medical notes viewed by FrontPageAfrica told doctors after she was confirmed positive, that his mom had attended a reunion beach party with old classmates on Sunday, March 8, 2020.

Russ has not traveled to Italy – and has not been in close contact with Nathaniel Blama, the first case of Coronavirus in Liberia, raising more questions as to how Ms. Russ may have been infected.

Russ is currently at the 14 Military Hospital off the Robertsfield Highway being treated.

“Now, what we are thinking is that, is it possible that this friend on the 8th March was sharing the virus and by the time we met her had stopped sharing the virus? Or is it that this is an unknown person that gives the virus – who we don’t know”

– Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Executive Director-designate, NPHIL

Liberia office of the Millennium Challenge Corporation where Russ is employed has been closed as a precaution for two weeks. The decision reportedly came after MCC hierarchy met with a team from NPHIL and provided names of all employees, contact details.

The private beach party, FPA has learned took place in the Marshall area. FrontPageAfrica has learned that some 71 persons from that party have already been traced and are being monitored.

Russ’s son reportedly told doctors that one of his mother’s former classmate, Mason, who had recently returned from Italy, was also in attendance and interacted with his mom.

The son, according to the medical notes, explained that his mother got ill about three days ago with fever, cough, and malaise and decided to come for testing. “The patient does not know if the returnee from Italy is ill with symptoms now. She does not know if other people who attended the party is ill,” a hospital employee with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity said Saturday.

Meanwhile, The National Public Health Institute has called on all Liberians to put aside whatever differences they may have with one another and join in the fight against the Coronavirus.

“We have to be uncomfortable a few times to save our lives and we see from this disease that it doesn’t respect status: the rich, ministers too are getting it and even the poor,” said Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director General-designate of NPHIL.

Dr. Fallah said all Liberians should come together by “giving constructive ideas” especially in the next two months in helping to contain the pandemic.

He was speaking at a press briefing organized by the Ministry of Information for weekly updates from the relevant health authorities on measures put in place to contain the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the government, in its latest move to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019, has declared a state of national health emergency. The government has even gone further to invoke the Public Health Law of Liberia, designating Montserrado and Margibi Counties as infected areas.

By doing so, the government instituted several measures largely aimed at limiting crowding in the two counties beginning “effective immediately.

“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and in an effort to keep our nation safe, the Minister of Health has declared a national health emergency,” Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah announced in a live radio broadcast on Sunday, March 22.

Dr. Jallah declared the two counties “infected areas” in keeping with Title 33, Chapter 14 of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised, known as the Public Health Law. She went on to list some rules and regulations, which are to remain in effect for the next 21 days.

Appearing live on state radio 48 hours later after Russ was diagnosed, Dr. Jallah, among several measures, announced the closure of all private and public schools, universities, colleges and other institutions of learning for 21 days as of March 21, 2019 within Montserrado and Margibi Counties.

She said the Ministry of Justice, as head of the Joint Security, shall enforce these rules without prejudice.

The ban also covers bars, night clubs, casinos, betting centers, cinemas, video clubs, entertainment centers, private and public beaches, barber shops and beauty salons.

“Churches, Mosques, religious centers and other places of worshiped are hereby ordered closed,” she said.

The government has also barred large gatherings, including sporting activities and parties of more than 10 people.

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