Liberia COVID-19: Troubling Claims, Counter Claims over Events Leading to PSI Director Quarantine
MONROVIA – The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the Executive Director of Population Services International (PSI), Mr. Rijuv Dua are giving conflicting accounts on events leading to his quarantine, but some of the revelations are quite worrisome as far the COVID-19 fight is concerned.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Mr. Dua claims that he contacted NPHIL on March 27 based on the advice of his ‘regular clinic’. He was feeling lethargic and had a mild itchy throat.
NPHIL did not show up until March 30, the same day he had visited Fidelity Hospital, wearing a mask, he said. There, he was tested for typhoid, malaria, and complete blood count.
“I kept pursuing NPHIL for sample collection and they finally came to my home on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, to be told that there is a shortage of [testing] kits. I contacted my friends in Global Fund and WHO in Geneva, who informed me that they were aware of the shortage of kits and the kits had been dispatched and were now at customs in Liberia,” he explained.
His specimens were taken on Tuesday at about 4 PM when he went to the testing center at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville.
Dua: “My sample throat and nasal swab samples were collected.
However, no timeline for the report was provided. I consulted the doctor at Fidelity who asked me to stop by and give a sample for blood culture, which I did and that later on came with no abnormality detected.”
He said he made several follow-ups to NPHIL for his result but never got any until April 3 when he was reportedly called by NPHIL accusing him of not turning himself in at the isolation center as he was found positive for COVID-19.
“I kept pursuing NPHIL for sample collection and they finally came to my home on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, to be told that there is a shortage of [testing] kits. I contacted my friends in Global Fund and WHO in Geneva, who informed me that they were aware of the shortage of kits and the kits had been dispatched and were now at customs in Liberia.”– Mr. Rijuv Dua, Country Director, PSI-Liberia
He alleged: “I was threatened and abused on phone. I was deeply traumatized by it as I was the one who had been pursuing them to test me. I was behind the scene pushing for test kits. I had followed almost 4 to 5 times a day to seek my result and cooperate. I was taken away like a criminal with the press dressed up as health workers clicking my photos that were splashed across the media. Even though I had not even reached the isolation facility, I started getting calls from radio channels and TV stations for interviews. I had to block each one of them,” he stated.
At the regular press briefing on Monday, April 27, the Director-General of NPHIL, Dr. Mosoka Fallah expressed his disappointment over Dua’s outburst and termed it as a “disservice to the NPHIL and the response team”.
Dr. Fallah said Mr. Dua had attended a meeting on March 2-4 and fell ill on March 25 but did not inform the health authorities until NPHIL received a tipoff on March 29 and made contact with him, requesting him to do a voluntary test for COVID-19.
The NPHIL Director-General said he gave Mr. Dua the option of sending a team to his home to collect specimens or he voluntarily drive to the SKD Complex for the test to be conducted.
He had already been to two hospitals before the test was conducted, Dr. Fallah said.
“While he was sick, he had one of his co-workers with him in the house. Not only that, whilst he was at home sick, he had most of the staff from PSI coming to him to sign documents. He sat in meeting with 40 persons, at the end of the day, he had generated 70 contacts.”– Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director-General, NHIL
According to Dr. Fallah, Mr. Dua opted to drive to the SKD Complex for the test on March 29. The result came out on March 30 morning.
“By noon we called him, he had left his house and escaped. We called him, he did not pick up his phone. We called him, all the numbers we had we called it. Even our colleagues from CDC called him, he did not pick his phone. We realized that he’s working for PSI. We went to PSI website, pulled a number from the PSI website, we called the number and he answered that number,” Dr. Fallah explained.
According to Dr. Fallah, he informed them he was at Sheree Pharmacy in Central Monrovia but they instructed him to remain there and await the health team to pick him up for a treatment center.
He chattered a private car to go to the pharmacy.
He used a private car, that became a new worry for us.
Dr. Fallah: “He did not only go to Sheree Pharmacy, but he had gone to a hospital called Clinic lab to do an additional blood test after we had told him he to be ready, we are going to take him to the treatment unit.
“We tried to get him back, he said he would not show us where he was. We told him to not ride any other commercial car and that we’ll come and pick you, he didn’t listen to us.”
Dua reportedly went back to his compound where the ambulance team picked him up from and took him to the treatment unit.
Dr. Fallah further disclosed: “While he was sick, he had one of his co-workers with him in the house. Not only that, whilst he was at home sick, he had most of the staff from PSI coming to him to sign documents. He sat in meeting with 40 persons, at the end of the day, he had generated 70 contacts.”