Liberia: PSI Country Director, 7th COVID-19 Patient Alerted Authorities of ‘Fever’; Symptoms
Monrovia – Mr. Rujiv Dua, the Country Director of Population Services International (PSI) and the seventh confirmed case of COVID-19 in Liberia alerted the NGO and authorities of the Ministry of Health when he began to exhibit symptoms of the virus.
In a statement from the PSI Liberia leadership Saturday, the NGO offered a detailed background and timeline leading to Mr. Dua’s ordeal with the killer virus.
According to the NGO, during the week of March 23, following the first detection of the COVID-19 case on March 16, PSI Liberia began social distancing efforts by rotating staffers every other day to ensure they could work at least six feet apart.
The NGO also cancelled all staff meetings of 10 or more to allow room and directed peer educators to contact individuals over the phone rather than in person.
On Thursday, March 26, PSI Liberia Country Representative Rajiv Dua felt ill and went home mid-day.
On Friday March 27, Mr. Dua, according to the NGO, self-quarantined, with a caregiver on site.
On Saturday, March 28: Following PSI protocol, Dua contacted PSI’s global headquarters in Washington, DC, to alert them of his fever. At that time he did not exhibit respiratory symptoms.
Sunday, March 29: Dua’s symptoms worsened. He alerted both the PSI Liberia staff and the Ministry of Health of his concerns regarding his symptoms and sought a test for COVID-19.
On Monday, March 30: PSI Liberia’s Director of Administration and Finance was named Acting Country Representative and as per WHO protocol, Mr. Dua remained self-quarantined.
On Wednesday, April 1, the Liberia government health response team went to Dua’s home to draw a blood culture while Mr. Dua remained in self-quarantine.
On Friday, April 3, Mr. Dua’s test showed a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and as per government protocol, the country manager was brought to the 14 military hospital by the Emergency Medical Services. “For purposes of contact tracing, two additional PSI Liberia employees were brought to the military hospital for testing and are currently under observation in the Precautionary Observation Center (POC). They await their test results,” the NGO said.
“In accordance with PSI protocols, the office is closed and the donor, The Global Fund, has been alerted. In addition to Dua, ten employees are under the mandatory quarantine for observation of symptoms at the demand of the Liberian government. While none are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19, two have been tested and await their results, while eight more will only be tested if they begin to show symptoms. Only Dua has tested positive.”Liberia Leadership, Population Services International (PSI)
Upon learning of Dua’s test results and subsequent contact tracing measures, together, the NGO said PSI Global Headquarters and PSI Liberia immediately closed the PSI Liberia office and ceased all programming, advanced the staff two weeks salary and alerted the donor, The Global Fund, of the pause in programming.
Additionally, the NGO said, it encouraged all staff to follow WHO guidance for prevention of COVID-19 and encouraged anyone who felt symptoms to get tested for COVID-19.
The NGO says it also requested that any staff testing positive confidentially alert the PSI headquarters for further support and set up a WhatsApp discussion group for PSI Liberia staff to obtain health advice and for psycho-social support.
On Saturday, April 4, during further contact tracing, the Liberia government quarantined eight additional PSI employees at a hotel for 14 days of observation. They had been in contact with Dua during the week before he was tested. They will be tested if they show signs of COVID-19. Currently none are showing symptoms.
The NGO says it is pausing programming for at least the next two weeks in order to help stem the novel virus. “In accordance with PSI protocols, the office is closed and the donor, The Global Fund, has been alerted. In addition to Dua, ten employees are under the mandatory quarantine for observation of symptoms at the demand of the Liberian government. While none are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19, two have been tested and await their results, while eight more will only be tested if they begin to show symptoms. Only Dua has tested positive.”
The NGO hailed health authorities in Liberia for showing great leadership in taking quarantine and social distancing measures seriously. “PSI encourages all Liberians to wash hands with soap often and social distance up to six feet from those who live outside their home to prevent the spread of the disease. Those who access services through PSI’s HIV drop-in center in Montserrado County can find alternate support through 10 other clinics funded by USAID.”
PSI/Liberia was founded in 2008 to work in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It was established to help implement the Basic Package of Health Service component of the National Health Plan and to assist in achieving the goals set by the national Poverty Reduction Strategy. At the request of the government, PSI/Liberia’s first program focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, including HIV. In 2009, a child survival program was initiated to establish a market for WaterGuard household water treatment products to prevent diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. In 2010, PSI/Liberia launched Star condoms, the only national branded condom.
PSI/Liberia works nationwide with local and international organizations to deliver needed products and services and foster behavior change to empower Liberians to lead healthier lives. PSI products are available throughout the country.
The platform is staffed mainly by Liberians, some of whom have returned to the country to aid rebuilding.