5 August 2018

Liberia: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital Denies Having Confirmed Ebola Case On Ward

Photo: The Guardian
(File photo).

Monrovia — John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Liberia's biggest referral hospital, has denied reports of having on its ward a confirmed Ebola case.

"This is indeed a Fake news geared to instill fear and distrust in our facilities. We are incredibly saddened by such damaging propaganda towards the healthcare delivery center," the hospital said in a statement.The hospital's management explained that the recent relocation of patients to the newly renovated Emergency Room facility, which was probably misconstrued, is due to the creation of additional bed spaces in line with its 150-day deliverables.

"The Management reassures the public that efforts to make JFK the Hospital of Choice remain unhindered and irresistible; as Management continues the upgrading of facilities and recruiting of Specialists to help in providing comprehensive healthcare to our people irrespective of status and affiliation," the statement stated.

The Hospital assured the public that any confirmed cases of Ebola at the Medical Center would be immediately communicated to the relevant authority.

In an interview with FPA last week, the head of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, said should be "no cause for alarm" despite the discovery of a new strain of the Ebola virus in neighboring Sierra Leone

The new strain of Ebola named 'Bombali virus' was discovered in fruits eating bats and has the potential to infect humans, researchers say.

So far, according to health officials in Freetown, there is no evidence that the new virus strain has infected any human.

"There is no need to panic about this situation; researchers are in control. It is not a new outbreak as it is being considered by people," says Tolbert Nyenswah, NPHIL's Director General.

Nyenswah, an expert health practitioner who worked successfully through the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, says more research is needed in order to establish the characteristics of the new strain found in Sierra Leone.

"The facts are, it can be transferred to human cells but what is not known is whether or not it can cause the [Ebola] disease as in the case of previous outbreaks," he told FrontPage Africa on Wednesday.

There has been no human-to-human transfer of the new strain as in the case of the 'Zaire strain' which infected thousands of people leading to the deaths over 11,300 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Nyenswah, however, added that what is unknown about the new strain is whether it is virulent like the Zaire strain; adding, "This is why scientists are working overnight to determine".

Experts have disclosed that it is difficult to put a timeline to gathering sufficient information about the new strain to determine if the virus can cause an outbreak.

"So, what we need to be caution about is playing with fruits bats or eating them. These kinds of things are very much warned against especially in the region of Sierra Leone that we are talking about," he said.

While disclosing that similar research is on-going in Liberia to investigate viruses in animals, Nyenswah stressed that Ebola is always a cause for concern like any other infectious disease that disrupts human population and socioeconomic activities like cross border trade.

But he is relying on Liberian experts' "lessons learned from the 2014-15 outbreaks" to put the country in a better position to deal with any potential threat.

"Those measures that we need to take right now as a country, Liberia is taking them right now and that there's no outbreak," he said.

However, he refused to rule out potential outbreak, but expressed confidence in the capacity of NPHIL to prevent, detect, and respond timely to potential outbreak in the country.

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