On Thursday night November 19, 2015, the gates of the ELWA level #2 Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU was once again opened for the third time to usher in new patients among them a 10-year old boy who had contracted the deadly Ebola virus, though the source is yet unknown.
Ambulances beamed their lights at the gates around 11:45 PM Thursday night as residents and drivers plying along the route panicked over the return of the tropical disease that left over 4000 people dead during its first deadliest stint here.
Health authorities wasted no time on early Friday morning November 20 to break the sad news of the Ebola return to an already scary population and the world at large.
Officials at the Ministry of Health put the number of the latest cases at three confirmed. This sad news come months after Liberia was declared Ebola-free for the second time on September 3, this year.
“We are calling on the population not to panic because we have people capable of putting the situation under control,” said Sorbor George –Health Ministry Spokesman said.
Health Minister Bernice Dahn at the news conference on Friday confirmed that the new confirmed cases at the ELWA ETU.
“It all started on Thursday, the 19th of November when we received a report from one of our reference laboratories that a blood sample from a live patient was tested and was proven positive of the Ebola,” said Minister Dahn, adding that the first confirmed case in the new outbreak was a 10-year old boy who fell sick on November 14 and was hospitalized three days later. The other two patients – also of Duport Road in Paynesville City, are related to the boy.
she said the 10-year patient had all symptoms of the virus, including fever, weakness and bleeding, at a hospital in Monrovia on the 17th of November, adding that the hospital admitted and placed him in an isolation center.
She told reporters that after he was proven positive of Ebola, he and all the five high risked contacts were directly taken into the ETU where they are currently seeking medical attention. Minister Dahn indicated that officials of the ministry were working with the Montserrado County health Team and partners to conduct an investigation, isolate and limit the effects of the case, as well as quickly respond to any additional cases that may be identified.
“This case as the previous cases, demonstrates the structure we have in place to strengthen our surveillance system; and our laboratories in Liberia allow us to adequately respond to the virus,” she said, stressing that the fight against Ebola was not still over, and that Liberians must not lose hope, but continue the preventive practices used to beat Ebola before.
“It is critical for us to remain vigilant, and speak out or report anything we see or hear,” she cautioned. On September 3, 2015, Liberia was declared free of the deadly Ebola virus for a second time.
But the World Health Organization or WHO Ebola Response Chief, Bruce Aylward, told journalists in Geneva that initial investigations have not yet turned up a confirmed link between the 10-year-old and another Ebola sufferer, leaving many questions unanswered as health officials try to figure out the origins of the new case.
“The child has no known history of contact with a survivor or having been at a funeral” where an Ebola victim was buried, Aylward added, a reference to the fact that secretions from the corpses of those who died from the virus are highly contagious.
“I’m sure as we start to move forward, we will see more clarity,” the UN official assured, stressing that Liberia’s emergency response system has improved drastically since the initial outbreak of the virus that wreaked havoc across parts of West Africa.
Aylward said that two of the boy’s siblings had reported feeling ill over the last three days, but there was no confirmation that they were the new confirmed cases.
“His father and mother had transient illnesses in the last few weeks, so obviously, that could be one of the lines of transmission,” Aylward also said.
By Lewis Teh