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The Ebola fear

Liberia is panicking in the wake of report of a new strain of the Ebola virus in neighboring Sierra Leone. But authorities here assure the public no need to panic.

Liberians have every reason to panic because they had been devastated before by the deadly virus, likewise the Republics of Guinea and Sierra Leone.|The scars of Ebola in Liberia are still visible in families, institutions and the economy even after the virus was terminated in 2015. It took a serious toll on the nation, leaving over 5,000 people dead, including elderly people, women, children, doctors and health workers.

Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are neighboring countries whose citizens engage in cross border trade and inter-marriages, sharing tribal, cultural, religious and social bonds, among others. Therefore, news of a strange type of the virus in one country is enough reason to worry.

Notwithstanding, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia or NPHIL, says the public should not panic, as it is closely monitoring the development in Sierra Leone.

NPHIL director-general Tolbert Nyenswah, says series of tests are being carried out by his institution about the new strain of the Ebola virus, identified as Bombali virus, which is reportedly found in fruit-eating bats. People of the subregion are fond of eating the birds that fly from one country to another.

“There is no need to panic about this situation; researchers are in control. It is not a new outbreak as it is being considered by people,” Nyenswah is quoted by a local daily in Monrovia.

And this is important because there are cross-border movements among the populations of the sub-region, a situation that could easily spark disease prevalence.Despite the assurance from NPHIL, we urge the authorities to step up screening process at our various borders to avoid possible carriers from crossing into Liberia, as had been experienced from the initial outbreak four years ago.

While allaying public fear is a welcome initiative by the Government of Liberia, but we caution that keeping a low profile on unfolding development from Sierra Leone could become seriously counterproductive due to complacency or overconfidence.

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