Health Authorities Dispel Rumors of Ebola Outbreak

MONROVIA, Montserrado – In the wake of rumors circulating in the public of two cases of the deadly Ebola virus in the country, health authorities have dismissed the reports.

On Saturday, August 4, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia’s Health Minister assured the public on ELBC Radio that there was no single case of the disease diagnosed in the country, as was rumored.

“There is no need for Liberians and foreign nationals to harbor fear of a new outbreak of Ebola in the country,” she said.

In the case of an outbreak of the disease, Jallah said the Health Ministry would inform the public and ensure that precautionary measures are taken to prevent the disease from spreading.

Also dispelling the rumors of the two cases of the Ebola virus disease in the country was the director general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, Tolbert Nyenswah, who said that the health sector is now capacitated to test and confirm diseases in cases of health emergencies.

“When diseases are tested and confirmed through the reference laboratory, the health minister, who is the only person under the law to declare such outbreaks, will then notify the public and World Health Organization,” Nyenswah added.

Tolbert Nyenswah, director general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Of late, the NPHIL director general emphasized that no Ebola case has been reported or confirmed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea.

Meanwhile, the management of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center has described the rumors suggesting that there is a confirmed Ebola patient admitted at the hospital as fake.

In a press statement, the hospital’s management termed the rumors as “regrettable and unfounded” noting that “the news is intended to instill fear in the populace.”

The management clarified in the press statement that at no time did the hospital receive or diagnose any suspected case of Ebola as was being speculated in the public.

“The relocation of patients to the newly renovated emergency building is due to the creation of bed spaces as indicated in the entity’s 150-days deliverables project,” the hospital noted.

The health authorities’ clarification comes amid reports emanating from the Bombiah district in neighboring in Sierra Leone about the discovery of the deadly virus in a bat.

Massive awareness was carried out in Lofa, which borders Sierra Leone, by health officials warning residents not to eat bat.

The Ebola epidemic occurred in the country from 2014 to 2015, and impacted neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone. The first cases of virus were reported by late March 2014.

There were 10,675 cases of Ebola by March 30, 2016 in Liberia, when the epidemic had finally subsided. Additionally, a total of 4,809 deaths had been recorded, according to the World Health Organization.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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