LLiberians Face More Ebola Danger: ‘Suspects’ Go Hiding

Deaths relating to the incurable Ebola virus in Liberia has hit at least 12, and the Ministry of Health has warned that more danger and threats as individuals suspected to be affected by the virus are going into hiding.

More than 20 other individuals are currently under surveillance after being suspected of coming in contact of victims of the virus, a Health Ministry Statement issues in Monrovia Tuesday (Apr 8) evening said.    

“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare that some persons who are required to be checked or isolated for being confirmed with the Ebola virus are evading the process, and have gone into hiding with the aid of either their relatives or other persons,” the statement signed by Dr. Bernice T. Dahn Deputy Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, noted.
 
The statement warned that “the Ministry of Health is seriously warning those who knowingly and purposefully harbor, hide, and/or refuse to report suspected cases of Ebola, particularly when suspected individuals have been notified that they are required to be tested and/or isolated for observation and screening, will be dealt with consistent with the law.”

It said such individuals will be prosecuted under Section 14.23 of the Penal Law of Liberia for recklessly endangering the lives of the citizens of the Republic of Liberia.

Section 30.2 of the Executive Law of Liberia states that: “The Minister of Health and Social Welfare is charged with the responsibility of administering governmental activities pertaining to the protection and improvement of public health and social welfare. The Minister shall also prevent or abate the introduction and spread of communicable, infectious, and preventable diseases within Liberia. In carrying out this mandate, the Ministry of Health is empowered to take such steps or actions that are necessary to ensure the prevention and spread of all forms of diseases throughout Liberia.”

The Ministry called on all persons who have come in contact with suspected cases of the Ebola virus or disease be checked, and where necessary, isolated for observation and screening.

Ebola is a deadly virus that has no known cure and has been diagnosed in a few persons in Liberia since the outbreak in late March. “A few of those persons have regrettably already died of the virus. Ebola threatens the safety and security of the entire nation,” the statement read.

The Ministry requested County Superintendents, community and religious leaders, community members, and other stakeholders to collaborate and support the County Health Teams in their efforts to sensitize the public in preventing and containing the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Ebola is transmitted through contacts with body fluids of infected persons and some bush animals including fruit bats, monkey, and chimpanzee.

The Ministry has warned that public during the current Ebola emergency to take precautionary measures such as not to eating dead bush animals and being very careful in handling fresh bush meats.

It also calls on the public to avoid bathing dead bodies of suspected patients, avoid eating plums/mangoes and other fruits partially eaten by bats, avoid eating monkeys, bats, and bamboos, and prevent coming in direct contact with body fluids of infected persons or dead persons.

Among others, the Ministry encouraged citizens to wash their hands with soap and water as frequently as possible, treat their water with chlorine before drinking, and to report any community member with symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea using the following numbers: +231770198517, +231777549805, +231886530260, and +231886549805.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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