The head of the Médicins San Frontières (MSF) run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Foya, Lofa County Dr. Serge St. Louis, briefing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Lofa could soon be declared an Ebola free county if the pace at which the transmission has broken continues.
The Northwestern County, which was reported the first center for the outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic have reported a drastic decline in transmission of the virus with “no new cases” for the past three weeks.
A press release from the Executive Mansion in Monrovia says Foya, a town that shares borders with both Guinea and Sierra Leone, registered the country’s first case of the Ebola virus disease from neighboring Guinea in February 2014, killing hundreds and subsequently spreading to other parts of the country especially Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.
President Sirleaf began a two-day visit to Lofa County on Monday, October 20, in continuation of her assessment of the Ebola situation in the country. She used the opportunity to hold discussions with community leaders on the essence of working collectively to contain the virus, and met with healthcare workers in the county to encourage them to continue to exhibit commitment in the discharge of their duties.
Dr. Louis warned that although significant gains have been made, the Liberian leader should reconsider security measures at the border area aimed at preventing a reoccurrence of how the virus was transported from Guinea and later spread throughout the country. He disclosed that the neighboring Guinean towns of Gueckedou and Macenta, close to Foya and Voinjama, are reporting an increase in cases of the Ebola virus.
He further named coordination and information sharing as important tools for the total containment of the virus; emphasizing that the Foya ETU could be used as an example as these measures greatly helped in reaching to zero case for the past weeks.
Performing a detailed demonstration of protocols at the ETU, the Dr. Louis informed the Liberian President that the community equally supported their work though it came a little too late. He attributed the rapid spread and numerous deaths to denial and cultural practices.
The MSF head in Foya disclosed that there are only six patients in the ETU and informed President Sirleaf that the patients will be discharged in the coming days. At the Foya Borma Hospital, President Sirleaf was briefed about the state of affairs of the hospital where regular health services are ongoing despite losing six nurses to the Ebola outbreak.
Meanwhile, in the county’s capital, Voinjama, President Sirleaf visited the Tellewoyan Memorial Hospital where the head doctor Zuana Kamara reported that there are regular health services being provided with no new case of Ebola for a little over one month.
Responding, separately, President Sirleaf termed the Lofa County Ebola situation as welcoming and relieving as a total defeat will lead to resumption of normal activities especially farming which is the main occupation of the people.
President Sirleaf expressed satisfaction for the joy that the citizens of Lofa County have been able to work with Liberia’s partners to reach thus far in the Ebola fight and hoped that other affected areas across the country will soon report the same as Lofa County. The U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac, who accompanied President Sirleaf to Lofa, told the citizens to continue working with MSF and the county authorities to maintain the zero transmission rate.
In Voinjama, the Liberian leader thanked health workers and announced to them that their risk benefits are now being paid. She admonished them to keep upholding their duty to the people as government works on some other demands, including increment in benefits.
En route to Voinjama from Foya, President Sirleaf made stops at several health clinics, including Kolahun Hospital. She donated Personnel Protective Equipment (PPEs) and assorted food items for healthcare workers as a demonstration of her appreciation for their sacrificial services.