Liberia: NPHIL Report Raises Eyebrow on Pres. Weah’s Stance on Nathaniel Blama

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MONROVIA – The narratives on Dr. Nathaniel Blama breaching health protocols at the Roberts International Airport and subsequently refusing to be quarantined are changing as new details emanating from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) show that he voluntarily requested testing.

Making the disclosure on the discovery of the Coronavirus in Liberia on Monday, President George Weah said, “The infected person is Mr. Nathaniel Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who arrived in Liberia on Brussels Airlines on Friday night, the 13th of March.  Along with several other officials of Government traveling on the same flight, Mr. Blama chose not to be quarantined, in keeping with the health protocols that were in place at the airport.”

Moments after the President’s address, the Communication Specialist at the EPA attempted providing clarity on the matter, stating that the President was probably misinformed of the happenings. This, however, cost her job as she was immediately suspended for time indefinite by the Deputy Executive Director of the EPA, Mr. Randall M. Dobayou, for putting out the statement without his approval.

Ms. Danise Love Dennis later came under heavy criticisms on social media, especially from loyalists of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who claimed she challenged the authority of the President.

Ms. Dennis has since decided to remain mute on the matter.

Mr. Blama was also suspended by the President for allegedly refusing to be quarantined and breaching health protocols.

“Following the arrival of the medical staff at his residence to take him for treatment, he again declined to board an ambulance, opting instead to follow the team with his private vehicle which is a further violation of public health measures,” the Executive Mansion stated in a press release.

His indefinite suspension came when he was already quarantined at the Redemption Hospital treatment center.

However, before his suspension was announced, he an audio recording of him circulated in which he is heard saying: I want to urge you guys to calm; I’m not doing anything out of protocol. I talked to the doctor and the doctor advised that since I’m okay, to not create panic, I should drive myself to the hospital and the ambulance was going to drive behind me and we did just that.

Why are you guys panicking, talk to Dr. Kateh, talk to Dr. Fallah, that’s what we agreed. And when they brought the ambulance in the community, the community members got concerned and started running behind it after even the health workers escorted me and I got in it.

Then you guys have done enough damage by misinforming the public that I refused quarantine. That’s not true and that’s not fair.

NPHIL Provided Clarity

“The positive test result was received at 3 am on 16th March 2020. This is the first confirmed to be reported in Liberia since the beginning of the pandemic in China in December 2019. Within 12hours, the case-patient had been isolated, contact identification, listing, and monitoring commenced, and National Public Health Emergency declared and WHO notified”

– National Public Health Institute of Liberia

Contrary to reports that Dr. Nathaniel Blama slipped through the cracks and resisted quarantine, the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) case history report says the first Liberian victim of the Coronavirus turned himself in for testing.

In its case history report, NPHIL stated that though Dr. Blama returned to Liberia from Switzerland on March 13, he began experiencing symptoms (fever and unproductive cough) started on March 14 and he sought over-the-counter medication on Sunday, March 15 at Lucky Pharmacy, 23rd Street in Sinkor.

“The positive test result was received at 3 am on 16th March 2020. This is the first confirmed to be reported in Liberia since the beginning of the pandemic in China in December 2019. Within 12hours, the case-patient had been isolated, contact identification, listing, and monitoring commenced, and National Public Health Emergency declared and WHO notified,” NPHIL report stated.

Meanwhile, NPHIL says it has documented 127 contacts, 23 high risks, and 104 low risks.

The National Public Health Institute also developed an outbreak case definition, surveillance surge team to commence active search and contact tracing and updated its standard operating procedure.

New Reactions

Several followers of the unfolding situation on social media are beginning to question the source of the President’s information taking into consideration NPHIL and the World Health Organization report.

These are few comments from individuals following the story:

George Galakpai I thought health authorities are supposed to quarantine a person immediately after it is determined that the person is coming from one of the countries with too many Corona cases? In Mr Blama case, that did not happen. The precautionary observation should start right at the airport. It seems like health authorities are not enforcing the rules on government officials entering the country. Blama was the bad lucky one. All those government officials that recently entered Liberia from overseas need to be tested. There should be no pick and choose.

Massa Magnificent Crayton NPHIL’s attempt to do damage control will only highlight more loopholes of the entire saga. Please let’s focus on treatment of the sick, tracking of contacts and continued public awareness about the importance of everyone observing the precautionary measures.

Arthur Kwatekeh Norris Why was he not quarantined on Sunday after he submitted himself for testing? He came from a region that is affected, and he was showing symptoms. Assuming this story is true, getting him on Monday after the result came in, created a scene. SOP was still not followed properly.

Uzondu Esionye If we are not careful, misinforming the public might be devastating. I strongly believe the President was misinformed.

Gbalee George If this story is true, then NPHIL and MOH response team needs to be investigated and restructured. This man came from a country high cases of coronavirus, why will you allow him to leave the quarantine site?? Bunch of jokers and money eaters.

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