On Saturday, June 19, Liberia had reported 52 new cases of the covid-19. The day before, the country had recorded 161 new cases. The ECOWAS briefing reveals that cases are now spread across several parts of the country with Montserrado County reporting the highest number. “Every part of Montserrado now is a hotspot. The map was really scary – dotted all over, representing cases across Montserrado. Unlike before, a lot of young people are getting infected. And the designated center for treatment StarBase has run out of beds,” the source disclosed to FrontPageAfrica. Speculation of the Delta Variant of the covid-19 in Liberia has not been confirmed, however, the UK variant is confirmed to be in Liberia. There are fears among public health practitioners that it is just a matter of time before Liberia records all variants in the country. The symptoms of the new variant in-country include itchy throat, dry throat, dry cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, loss of smell, aches, and pains, conjunctivitis, rash on the skin, and diarrhea.
Test Results Not Forthcoming: Several citizens who have taken the COVID-19 test in Monrovia lament that the national laboratory controlled by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia in most cases does not release their results in the 72-hour time frame.FrontPageAfrica, however, gathered that the laboratory is understaffed, putting a toll of load on the limited staff available. This usually leads to the misplacement of samples and slows the pace at which results are to be given. But the Communications Director of NPHIL, Mr. Joseph Wiah, told FrontPageAfrica that at times, the technicians at the lab will have to rerun the tests when the results are not satisfactory upon the first test. Since the announcement of the increase in the number of cases, there has been a big rush to health facilities for the covid vaccine.
On Monday, a local entrepreneur, Mr. Mahmud Johnson, expressed his frustration over the lack of availability of the vaccine at various health facilities except for the Ministry of Health. He wrote: “In the past day, I have gone to several health facilities in Montserrdo to get the 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but each of them told me one thing – ‘Go to MOH’! Yes, the government is demanding everyone in Montserrado County to go to the MOH to get vaccinated too and in the same breath, they are warning citizens to avoid crowded places. What the heck they think would happen if everyone converges at a single point? Overcrowding…”
Recommending Lockdown: Meanwhile, the Liberia Medical and Dental Association, (LMDA) has expressed deep concern and fear over a recent resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases in Liberia.“The government should consider implementing an immediate nationwide lockdown in order to initiate massive contact tracing and arrest the rapid spread of the virus within the population as things are fast getting out of hand,” LMDA Secretary-General, Dr. Moses Ziah II stressed on Monday. According to the LMDA, the third wave of COVID-19 infections has demonstrated to be nothing like what was seen over the past 18 months since Liberia reported its first case back in March 2020. Speaking at a press conference held at the LMDA office in Monrovia, Dr. Ziah said the current daily number of new infections, the severity of cases, and death rate are alarming and unprecedented, while the need for medical and other supplies including, oxygen cylinders and delivery apparatus, medications among others, remains a huge challenge.
According to Dr. Ziah, these challenges at health facilities are hampering the ability of clinicians to provide adequate care to COVID-19 patients. “We extend our sympathy to all those affected by this disease and the grieving family of those who has lost their lives. At the moment, Liberia is one of the countries reporting the highest number of new cases in the entire West Africa sub-region,” Dr. Ziah said. The LMDA wants government, through the Ministry of Health to immediately consider opening additional isolation and treatment centers around the country to deal with the rapid increase in the number of cases. “We also recommend the isolation of all COVID-19 cases, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic as was done during the first wave. Considering our context, taking all cases from the community will help in breaking the chain of transmission faster,” Ziah said.
At the same time, he wants the government to ensure the protection of all healthcare workers by supplying all needed personal protective equipment (PPE) in all facilities at all times. Lack of PPEs, according to the LMDA, will lead to increase infection amongst health workers which will further cause panic and demotivation to others Similarly, Ziah wants testing facilities to be expanded and decentralized, so as to shorten the turn-around time of COVID-19 results, noting that it will help in confirming diagnosis faster and isolating positive cases immediately. The LMDA admonished the government to partner with private institutions for the validation of results coming from the National Reference Lab. “We as a nation cannot afford to play politics while the precious lives of our people are being lost on a daily basis. We must learn from previous experiences in order to improve the quality of our response this time around,” Ziah maintained.“Government should consider incorporating LMDA and other professional health bodies at the core of the response since these institutions remain major stakeholders in the health sector,” he said.