Monrovia — The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) have begun educating the Liberian public about how to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
MOH and partners began the exercise on Friday outlining measures being put in place by Liberia's health team to prevent the entry of the virus into the country.
This comes as the World remains threatened by a new strain of the Coronavirus discovered in Wahun, China. The virus was first decoded by a scientist named Loe Poon and according to him it is likely that the virus started in an animal before spreading to humans.
Briefing the press, the head of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Mosaka Fallah, disclosed that even though the outbreak started in an animal's market in China in December of last year, the virus did not transmit to humans until in January of this year.
"We've established that the disease can be transmitted from human to human and the other part of it that is of big concern to us is the fact that they have exported cases to other countries," disclosed Dr. Fallah.
According to Dr. Fallah, because there have been cases exported to different countries including Japan, South Korea and Thailand, the Ministry Health and partners have decided to do a risk profile because there is "a high possibility for the Coronavirus" entering the country.
"There is a possibility because a lot of Liberians go to China for business; we have a lot of Liberian students in China, we have a good relationship with China," he explained.
He added that for preventive measures, the team has decided to put the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and the National Port Authority (NPA) under surveillance because it is the direct point of contact for the outbreak so far.
"We said first let's go at our Airports, James Springgs Payne Airport deals with domestic flights and risk is minimum to zero; we went to RIA, this is the place of our biggest threat and secondary goods come from China at the Freeport and then the next question is how do we address that," the NPHIL boss explained.
As it relates to addressing the risk factor of the disease entering Liberia, Dr. Fallah said the health team has prepared an advisory consultant with the security apparatus and the Executive as it relates to the release of sensitive information, and detecting the symptoms of the virus at the ports of entry.
"What are the symptoms that our guys at the port of entry can guide against; someone coming from China since December presenting with fever and cough... these are the symptoms we are watching out for," he explained
"We have reinforced and increased the handwashing and sanitation at the RIA; we've also increased our men at the RIA and we've deployed an ambulance too at the airport just in case we detect a case," Dr Fallah continued.
He also disclosed that three major hospitals will serve as a supporting arm for the team in case of any case discovered. They are Du-side Hospital in Harbel, Margibi County; the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville for preliminary examination and the Redemption Hospital for Isolation purposes.
For his part, the County Representative of the CDC affirmed that there is no case of the Coronavirus in Liberia, adding that CDC along with the Ministry of Health are only preparing for any eventuality if it may happen.
"Liberia is prepared and we are putting together contingency that we are now executing to make sure that if a case comes through we would be able to detect that case early, isolate that case quickly to protect the public," the US CDC official said.
Also speaking, the Expert and Advisor on Health Policy and Service Delivery to the WHO and Ministry of Health at Country Level Mesfin Gebrekidan Zbelo stated that a global and national alert has been activated even though the Coronavirus is not yet in Liberia.
"Globally it is spreading, many countries have been affected, more than a hundred patients have been affected and more than twenty-five people have died and at the global level investigation is ongoing," Zbelo said.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds that include diarrhea in cows and pigs, and upper respiratory disease in chickens. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections, which are often mild, but in rare cases are potentially lethal. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs that are approved for prevention or treatment.