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Fear grips Caldwell

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 The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn Liberia– following Ebola victim’s death

Residents of Tomsaw community, a small, but densely populated community in the Monrovia suburb of Caldwell are gripped by serious fear following the reported death of a 44-year-old female resident of their area from the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

The victim, Ruth Tugbeh, reportedly died over the weekend in an ETU in Monrovia. She was confirmed Ebola positive about two weeks ago at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town following several medical tests.

“We are seriously living in fear now in our community here since we heard that Ma Ruth is no more. At first, it was not really serious when we heard that Ma Ruth had contacted the virus; we were just praying to God that nothing happen but now we are hearing that she did not make it. It really gets us here living in fear,” an old lady sitting under a mango tree narrated in sorrow when this paper visited the community on Sunday, March 29th.

Palm Sunday in Liberia is widely celebrated by Christians in the country, with congregation crowding worship centers, but that was not the case in Tomsaw community in Caldwell as residents sat in front of the their houses doing something else while Churches there were empty.   

According to Oldma Sarah, Tomsaw is no longer safe for residents, noting that the late Ruth Tugbeh, who sold cooked food on school campus, interacted with lot of children and residents due to the kind of the business she was engaged in.

She added that prior to falling sick and subsequently testing positive, the deceased lived in a compound with many people.

A contact tracer who sat about 20 feet from the victim’s compound, refused to give details on grounds that there are strict instructions not to speak to the press, but referred The NewDawn to the Island Clinic in Duala, Bushrod Island  where she said authorities at the Ebola Treatment Unit could comment on the situation.

According to her, since 80 people were quarantined in the community, there has been no suspected case except an unidentified man, who she said, lastly came in contact with the deceased, and is being quarantined in one of the ETUs.

When this paper visited the Island Clinic in Duala, guards posited at the clinic entrance said the bosses were out.

Up to her reported death over the weekend, health authorities in Monrovia were unable to establish source of the new infection, which dash the country’s hope of reaching the 42 days benchmark set by the World Health Organization to declare Liberia Ebola-freed 

The deputy boss of the Incident Management Team at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Francis Kateh, had expressed concern that it has not been possible to establish how the woman became infected, as health workers have run out of “contacts” to pursue.

Addressing a regular press briefing last week Monday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill,   he said health authorities have launched an investigation to determine whether the woman had visited any neighboring country or attended secrete burials in her community prior to contracting the virus.

But unconfirmed multiple sources told this paper that the victim may have contracted the virus from a boyfriend, who is said to be an Ebola survivor, and a resident of Karpeh Street in the Borough of New Kru Town.

The unidentified boyfriend had reportedly completed the 90 days or three months period prescribed by doctors in the Ebola Treatment Units for survivors to abstain from sex. The Ebola virus lives in the semen of male survivors for up to 90 days during which it is dangerous to have sexual intercourse with a partner, health experts have advised.

The NewDawn also gathered that the boyfriend in question, fully completed his 90 days abstinence period as required, and was approaching 100 days when he allegedly had unsafe sexual intercourse with Ruth Tugbeh.

The couple reportedly had regular sex, using condoms but this time around, they decided to take the experiment a step further, having successfully completed the 90 days period.

Doctors confirmed the late Ruth positive recently at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town following several medical tests.

In an earlier visit to the Caldwell compound of the victim by this paper a week ago, it was observed that two houses, containing a total of 12 bedrooms have been quarantined with about 80 occupants.

A man, who identified himself as chairman for the community, Foday Kromah, said the root source of the infection is yet unknown, but furthered that when it all started, the victim was removed from her house in the Tomsaw community on a motorbike to Caldwell Junction, where another bike took to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town where she was confirmed positive.

He said since occupants of the compound were quarantined, local NGOs and partners have been providing food items with some other materials for their upkeep, pending 21 days. 

By Ben P. Wesee

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