Officials of the New Georgia Baptist took to the pulpit Sunday (April 6) morning to create awareness on the deadly Ebola virus which has so far claimed seven lives in the country.

The virus outbreak erupted late March when some individuals are reported to have crossed from neighboring Guinea to seek medication in Lofa County.

The Guinea Ministry of Health has reported 127 cases of Ebola virus disease as of April 1, and 83 people had died, according to the World Health Organization. The cases of infected people include 14 health care workers, 8 of whom have died.

 Ebola was first identified in 1976, when it appeared in outbreaks in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is named for the Ebola River, which runs near the Congolese village where one of the first outbreaks happened.

 The virus outbreak in Liberia has been described by some citizens as a national emergency, with many others calling on the Liberian Government to close the country’s border with Guinea.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is abroad, has called for calm among Liberians, stating that though the situation was a “serious on”, citizens must not go “panic”.

 Health Minister Walter Gwenigale last week called on the public including religious institutions to create awareness on the incurable virus, and the New Georgia Baptist Church followed suit Sunday.

 “Ebola is here and it is serious, claiming lives,” Deacon Teah Doegmah, told a congregation of at least 250 worshippers in 15 minutes awareness.

 Doegmah a Liberian Journalist, currently serves as Behavior Change Communication Program Officer at Building Basic Health Services, among others things told his inquisitive audience that at first, the symptoms of the virus are like a bad case of the flu: high fever muscle aches, headache, sore throat and weakness. They are followed quickly by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding, which can spread the virus. The kidneys and liver begin to fail, he explained.

 Among other things, Doegmah furthered that: “It spreads to people by close contact with skin and bodily fluids from infected animals, such as fruit bats and monkeys. Then it spreads from person to person the same way. It can also spread indirectly, such as by sharing a towel with an infected person.”

 Doegmah called on worshippers to be careful in their dealing with others and the food they consume. “It spreads through bodily contact with people who are infested, and not just anybody,” he clarified.

 He described the outbreak of the incurable virus as sign of the end time as recorded in the New Testament Book of St. Luke. Luke 21:11 states that in the end times There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

 Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale last Thursday confirmed the deaths of two additional persons from the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, bringing to seven the number of suspected deaths from the virus.

The latest two, Dr. Gwenigale said, included the sister of the woman who died earlier of the virus in Foya, Lofa and a Bassa hunter.

 The fear of the virus has taken the country, especially the capital Monrovia by storm, with many people taking serious cautions such as avoiding handshakes, kissing, and body contacts which are said to be among the means via which the virus spread.

 Politicians including lawmakers have accused the President of showing don’t-care attitude about the pandemic, while the Senate last week passed a resolution for the Liberian government to shut its border with Guinea, but the Lower House failed to concur.

Both President Sirleaf and Minister Gwenigale have warned against the politicization of the outbreak, as the disease has not political border or boundary. Writes D Kaihenneh Sengbeh, dakasen1978@yahoo.com, +231886586531

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