Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah requests additional resources for response strategy in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, though she fails to state specific amount.
But Dr. Jallah informs the Liberian Senate that community engagement and empowerment is essential in the ongoing fight, but laments the global pandemic is not like Ebola when there was sufficient international goodwill pouring in the country.
She stresses need to increase testing centers across the country, empowering communities, church leaders and other religious leaders in fighting the virus, urging senators to support their various constituents to adhere to public health measures.
Appearing before the Senate Plenary on Wednesday, July 8, Dr. Jallah disclosed that up to present, Liberia has recorded 926 confirmed cases, with nine (9) cases reported on July 8, 2020.
She details that amongst the total number of cases being reported in Liberia, 102 are health care workers, while the country has recorded 41 deaths. She gives the case history that in March Liberia started with three (3) cases, which grew to 149 by April and in May dropped to 144, but hit 508 by June.
Dr. Jallah notes that there was a decrease in cases from April to May because of the first State of Emergency declared by President George Manneh Weah, including 3:00pm lockdown, which Liberians observed including health protocols and all necessary procedures. According to her, among the confirmed cases, males are two-third more affected than females, saying that there are increase infection rate among people under 15 and also 15-34, unlike earlier when those affected were in ages 60 and above.
She notes that 80 percent of the COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, so they will move around not knowing that they are infected with the virus, spreading it in the public. The Health Minister says Liberia has a lot of young people and that’s why there are more asymptomatic patients.
Dr. Jallah continues that Liberia was in the preparedness stage from January to March, where temperatures were taken at various borders from anyone entering the country, while actual testing started in March.
“Our focus is on the hotspots, in Thinkers Village we had 450 people tested in June and out of those people tested, 13 were confirmed, which gives us a positivity rate of 2.9. By June 12 we went to Dupot Road where we tested 585 persons; we got 64 positive, giving us a positivity rate of 11percent, while 61 of them were asymptomatic”, she explains.
Also appearing before the Senate Plenary, the Acting Executive Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, Dr. MosokaFallah calls on the public to do voluntary testing and adhere to treatment isolation protocols. He says COVID-19 patients in Liberia have not reached the stage to use ventilators.
Ordinary citizens here are not responsive to free testing, primarily so because the authorities seem to be using testing as punishment for violators of health protocols. Editing by Jonathan Browne