Since Sunday, 175 people have been listed as contacts and are being monitored. That these kinds of powerful myths are still prevalent demonstrates how hard it is to execute an effective response to any new outbreaks; and, perhaps, why the region as a whole is still battling to get rid of Ebola, more than 18 months after the outbreak began. A case in point: on Tuesday, government health workers were trying to administer the polio vaccine in communities in Nimba province, as part of a nation-wide vaccination drive.
Tests are being carried out to see if there are other cases so, while waiting for results, Liberian officials have moved to quarantine the area where the body of a 17-year-old boy with Ebola was found. Specifically, the quarantine is focused on two households who were in close proximity to the corpse.
The news came a day after Health Minister Bernice Dahn announced the first case of Ebola in Liberia for around three months, warning that it was “likely that we will find additional cases”.
“At this stage the origin of infection is not known”.
Ebola may start flaring up again in West Africa as a country previously rid of the virus is facing new cases.
There is a risk that Ebola virus may be reintroduced and transmission re-established in areas that have been declared Ebola-free.
There were also fears that a resurgence of Ebola in Nigeria may spell doom, given the challenging economic environment in the country.
There are now no indications that the case was imported from a neighbouring country and Margibi County is far from the epidemic’s remaining hotspots.
The two new patients, aged 24 and 27, have been admitted to a treatment centre near Monrovia the capital, Liberia’s Ebola response chief Tolbert Nyenswah said.
“Liberia did extremely well to be the first out of the three countries to chase Ebola”. There was also an understandable ignorance of the contagion and a reluctance among families to alert public health officials to the presence of a dying or dead victim.
“We have two confirmed cases today in Liberia”, Dr Moses Massaquoi, case management team leader for Liberia’s Ebola task force, said yesterday.
Abbas Dulleh /AP Health workers take a blood specimen from a child to test for the Ebola virus Tuesday.
Liberia accounts for more than 4,800 of the 11,220 deaths in the West African outbreak.
She said the Health Ministry is not recommending closure of borders, but the process of surveillance at all entry points both land and air, adding, “The fight against the virus is not over, but we must not lose hope; and continue practicing appropriate behaviors to control the virus”. The situation in Guinea and Sierra Leone is improving with most new cases coming from registered contacts.