Liberia: He Survived Ebola but Not Corona, First Health Worker Succumbs to COVID-19

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“Heartbroken to learn that Murphy V. Dolbah whose outsized presence buoyed us at the ELWA 2 Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit, died of COVID-19. Sending Love and condolences to all my friends in Liberia. The hefalthcare workers there have made untold sacrifices.”
– Mary Beth Heffernan

Monrovia – A nurse assigned to a local hotel being used as a quarantine center for suspected cases of the deadly Coronavirus has died, marking the first for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic in Liberia.

Murphy V. Dolbah was a COVID-19 responder conducting tests on suspected or quarantined cases at the Palm Springs Hotel. He succumbed to the virus at the 14 military Hospital off the Robertsfield Highway, FrontPageAfrica has learned.

Authorities in Liberia have been renting a number of hotels in Monrovia as quarantine centers due to the lack of spaces to quarantine at the 14 Hospital and other medical facilities in the city.

These hotels are used as Precautionary Observations Centers. Among them; Former Speaker ALEX Tyler’s hotel off the Robertsfield Highway, John  Gbessay’s  Beach Resort, Palm Springs, Executive Inn and Kailando Hotel.

Tributes Pour for Fallen Nurse

Murphy may have contracted the virus from the quarantine center at Palm Springs, an official familiar with the situation but not clothed with the authority to speak on it told FrontPageAfrica Saturday.

“In tears this morning, what I can’t believe this, Murphy V. Dolbah is no more. “We fought  Ebola together  at ELWA 2 Ebola unit until the Ebola finished. Almighty God kept us alive, this other outbreak we started again, without hesitation, the hero has fallen in the hand of this deadly, man-made virus coronavirus.

Cecelia Davis, Co-Worker

A co-worker who worked along with Dolbah at the Palm Springs told FPA that the deceased had expressed interest in being assigned on the Emergency Ambulance responding to COVID-19. He reportedly also suffered from asthma and complained of chest and heart pains. “He didn’t have a temperature or symptoms of Corona. But by the time they realized it, it was too late. If he had tested earlier, he would have been saved,” the colleague explained.

On Dolbah’s Facebook Page Saturday, many who worked with him over the past years showered words of praise and sympathy for his passing.

“Heartbroken to learn that Murphy V. Dolbah whose outsized presence buoyed us at the ELWA 2 Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit, died of COVID-19. Sending Love and condolences to all my friends in Liberia. The healthcare workers there have made untold sacrifices,” Mary Beth Heffernan, wrote.

“The whole world is weeping for you and we will forever miss you, Dr. Murphy V. Dolbah. RIP, wrote, Kandeh Jerry Kandehwah. 

Cecelia Davis wrote: “In tears this morning, what I can’t believe this, Murphy V. Dolbah is no more. “We fought  Ebola together  at ELWA 2 Ebola unit until the Ebola finished. Almighty God kept us alive, this other outbreak we started again, without hesitation, the hero has fallen in the hand of this deadly, man-made virus coronavirus. Should we back off or stay at the job. But if we leave who will take care of our brothers and sisters. Oh Lord Almighty, please help us, protect us and correct all of our mistakes at the job site. Murphy,  rest in peace, let Heaven reward you for your faithfulness to the health sector, All registered nurses, all ELWA 2 staffers will miss you. Rest brother.”

A Toll on Healthcare Workers

Dolbah’s death comes as healthcare workers continue to face increased risks on the job.

To date, 18 healthcare workers have fallen prey to the virus, according to the Situation Report of the National Public Health Institute(NPHIL). 

Five new confirmed cases reported from Montserrado County took Liberia’s cumulative COVID-19 cases to 81 Saturday as healthcare workers continue to take a toll from the killer virus.

According to the latest situation report from the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), there is also twelve new suspected cases with the death toll increasing to seven.

Not much detail is being released on the seventh death which according to the report took place outside the Treatment Unit.

The new suspected cases also give rise to the number of health workers with 18 new cases documented as of Saturday.

According to the report, the age range among confirmed cases is 1 month to 74 years with median age of 41 years. Seven of the confirmed cases transferred to the recovery Precautionary Observation Center(POC) of which, three have been discharged 

The report notes that one thousand two hundred eighty-six (1286) contacts including 223 health workers have been documented. A total of 837(65%) contacts have completed 14 days since exposure 

The National Public Health Institute is working with Montserrado, Nimba, Grand Kru, and Margibi County Health Teams to identify additional contacts 

Death Highlights Healthcare Workers’ Nightmare

Murphy’s death comes amid an internal revolt at the country’s leading referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center continues to face mount resistance from nurses and doctors unhappy with the manner in which they are working without protective gears following the infection of more and more medical workers.

On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, a Resident at the Liberia Japanese Friendship  Maternity Hospital came into contact with a patient, whom later the same day, would be known positive of COVID 19.

J Bornor Jallah, Residents Representative, in a statement said the infection categorizes the Resident as a HIGH RISK CONTACT who by protocol and best practices is to be self-isolated or quarantined while undergoing testing.

“The Resident, upon being made aware of her high risk status, immediately availed herself in full cooperation to the JFK Admin and surveillance team for appropriate course of action going forward. Regrettably, over 48hrs since the incident, The Resident case has not been appropriately handled by the JFK Administration. The Resident has been told by the JFK CMO and her deputy to go home -where she lives with her family – and self-isolate.”


Even frustrating, Jallah added, the Resident has not been given any form of support from the JFK administration. “She has been abandoned and has been left alone to make contacts with NPHIL, MOH and other relevant authorities to find a remedy to her issues.”


Jallah added: “The Residents in general are utterly disappointed by this development. This is yet another classic indication that the administration of JFK does not take serious the wellbeing of Residents at her institution. This attitude of carelessness and neglect meted against a colleague who became exposed while on duty at JFK strongly reaffirms that the safety, protection and support of ALL Residents during these periods of crisis cannot be guaranteed by the administration of JFK. We believe that Resident(s) who unfortunately might be hazardously exposed and or contract this disease while serving JFK might be treated similarly or even worst by the JFK administration. This is unacceptable!”

Residents are appealing to the JFK and all those concerned to look into this matter with utmost urgency and seriousness. 

Against this background, the healthcare workers have decided that Residents at JFK or any facility will STOP ALL HOSPITAL SERVICES within 48hrs until the following positions below are addressed:  A DECENT place reserved for Residents to self-Quarantine just in case we get exposed; If any resident get exposed, irrespective of them being symptomatic should be tested in at most 5 days post exposure; Who is responsible of Residents should be made clearly with documentation; Residents RISK BENEFITS should be clearly stipulated moving forward;

The Residents say they cannot commit to an institution that does not guarantee their safety and protection during this crisis.



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