NEWS FLASH
Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah

Liberia Makes Significant Progress against COVID-19

Monrovia, Liberia: Liberia experienced its worst period of the coronavirus pandemic in May and early July with the emergence of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic with the presence of the infectious Delta variant.

The country recorded 63 deaths during this period. The number of cases also increased by 3,254. A staggering 219 of those cases were recorded on July 3 alone, the highest daily surge of the virus since the pandemic started early last year.

With these, the country was subdued by fear, especially with reports that health facility, mainly the John Fitzgerald Kennedy memorial Hospital—the nation’s topmost referral hospital was overwhelmed with patients in the face of an acute shortage of logistics and accommodation.

The situation was worsened further when the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out a warning to its citizens not to travel to Liberia late last month.

However, cases have begun to dwindle a little over a month after this tense period, health authorities have said.

Health Minister, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, told the press at the Ministry of Information press conference recently that the country is making tremendous effort in the fight against COVID-19. On the overall, Minister Jallah noted Liberia is doing very well in the covid-19 cases.

“In our treatment units, we only have six cases right now and nobody is on oxygen,” she said, “All those who are there are only waiting for their lab results for them to be discharged.”

“We want to be thankful to everyone Liberian and those residing in Liberia for responding to the health mandate,” Liberia’s Health Minister added. Expanding on the gains made so far, Dr. Jallah asserted that there is a milestone of progress being made within the six counties that were badly hit by the Covid.

“Montserrado has only 23 cases as the highest number of cases so far while the rest of the counties have one to two cases of persons affected with Covid.”

It could be recalled that the Covid-19 Incident Management System (IMS), during the height of the pandemic in June received scanting criticisms from stakeholders both at home and in the diaspora for the response mechanism and methodologies that were being used. They called for structural changes in the national response team if Liberia was to stand any chance of beating back the outbreak.

The National Civil Society Council of Liberia has called for the Liberian government to outsource the management of its coronavirus-testing information system amid reports of bribery and extortion by healthcare workers.
The Council further called for the outsourcing of the testing processes to a more professional and trusted group like the WHO, while also urging NPHIL to reveal and penalize medical personnel who have corrupted the compromised the process.  

NPHIL had earlier stated in a recent Facebook post it was reviewing its testing and result-processing methods as it believes some of its staff was engaged in fraud, such as swapping of COVID-positive samples. Loretta Pope Kai, the chairperson of the council, described such fraud as “ungodly, uncivilized and abominable,”

Pope-Kai’s call for an overhaul of the testing system, as well as the overall response mechanisms, was also echoed by former NPHIL Director-General, Tolbert Nyenswah, who laid the blames for the spike in cases squarely at the feet of health authorities.

“The IMS and the health ministry are responsible for the latest spike of the virus due to their poor management of the outbreak,” Nyenswah told a popular talk show in Monrovia last month, describing the situation as precarious.
Minister Jallah, in a gratified mood, lauded healthcare workers across the country, especially those at Covid-19 treatment units, for their sacrifices that are now yielding tangible results.

She credited Liberians for the tremendous progress. “We are grateful to Liberians for positively responding to the health guidelines. This has helped to bring cases down. We pray that we all continue to abide by those regulations,” she said.

As a result of the progress made so far, the government has relaxed some of the rigid regulations. The Ministry of health, in a release last week, amended its Covid-19 regulations. The new regulations, amongst other things, extended the 9 pm restriction of recreation centers to 11pm.

“Night clubs, bars, beaches, cinemas, video clubs, entertainment centers, including hotel restaurants and guest houses shall close by 11pm. Hotel and guest house guests can access room service at the same time,” she said.
The statement, however, mandates everyone to wear facemasks at all times in public and ensure physical distancing of a minimum of three feet from each other in public. It also emphasized frequent washing of hands or the use of sanitizer must adhere to.

The ministry warned that the government will have no alternative but to impose a lockdown if the guidelines are flouted.

This story was produced with support from the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) through the Mobilizing Media against COVID-19, in partnership with FrontPage Africa and Heritage Newspaper.

 

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