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.