As Liberia’s prepares for total lockdown in coming days, health authorities here have gone to test their specimens for the novel coronavirus, aimed at rallying the public to report for mass testing.
The Government of Liberia is planning an all-out lockdown of communities and food distributions that would require residents to stay at home to allow mass testing of the population.
The Minister of Health Doctor Wilhemina Jallah Sunday, 17 March led an arrayed of healthcare officials to the Samuel Keyon Doe Sports Stadium in Paynesville outside Monrovia for specimens test.
“We gather this morning to do our specimens collections in order to set examples for our citizens to follow”, said the Health Minister, who is on record for disclosing that out of a total 20 COVID-19 deaths in the country, only one occurred in the treatment center at the 14th Military Hospital along the Roberts field Highway.
She cautions that if the coronavirus would leave Liberia, every citizen, beginning with officials must go for testing, something, which she notes, would build citizens’ trust in the health system.
Doctor Jallah explains that the decision to lead an arrayed of health officials, including the Country Representative of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization Country Representative to Liberia, Doctor Peter Clement, Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer Doctor Francis Kateh, and the head of the USAID Mission, among other is to encourage the public to come forth to give their specimens for testing.
Dr. Peter Clement of the WHO says it is important that officials of government particularly from the health sector took the lead because it will certainly encourage others.”Our gathering here today is a clear manifestation that leaders are interested in curtailing the spread of the virus”, Doctor Clement notes.
Deputy Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Kateh notes that it was very prudent to have begun the sample test with themselves rather than waiting on the public, adding, “Now that we have started this process, we want to call on our people to follow; with this, we will defeat this virus.”
Speaking earlier with ECOWAS Radio on Saturday, he explained that Ebola was not infectious as COVID-19, noting that with Ebola, you have to touch an infected person to contract the virus. “For Ebola, when a person dies, the body becomes more infectious.”
Doctor Kateh: But for COVID-19, when a person dies, we take a specimen and put the body in a block bag and have it kept, pending the test result. You can keep the body as long as you want to once it is placed in as freezer.Liberia’s total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus is officially at 218, including 20 deaths and over 90 recoveries.
Meanwhile, the Country Representative of the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention Doctor Desmond Williams is optimistic that now that health officials have taken the lead, it is time for citizens to follow their leaders’ footsteps.He emphasizes that government had made the pronouncement that people should have their samples taken for testing, and they deemed it necessary to key-start the process, so everyone should come out to do their test.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne