Liberia: 'Lockdown Only Possible If... '

opinion

-- Dr. Nyan supports Trial Vaccine for COVID-19 in Africa

Biomedical research scientist and infectious disease expert, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, has said that any thought of lockdown or curfew instituted by the government to contain the spread of the virus will only be effective if a stimulus package is attached to help people survive.

"Well, a lockdown can help in contact tracing but it is only possible if the population, mainly the less fortunate, can have some assistance to access food, and other basic needs," Dr. Nyan said in a phone-in interview with the Truth Breakfast Show yesterday morning.

Dr. Nyan, who is the inventor of the Nyan Testing Kits for multiple infectious diseases, said lockdown or curfew can only be effective if people are not going to bed hungry and have amenities such as free current and pipe-borne water. While fighting to save people from being contaminated by COVID-19, it would be more disastrous if they starved to death.

However, Dr. Nyan said the final discussion depends on how the government is looking at its means of containing "the spread of the virus. But to trace contacts, a lock-down could not be that bad. Some sacrifices are just needed."

Dr. Nyan added that Liberia having encountered the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014, should have learned enough lessons by now and take the appropriate measures in containing the spread of any virus, but this not the case.

"We need to close our borders and place in tighter measures," Dr. Nyan said. "Liberia is vulnerable and the worst may happen if care is not taken."

Dr. Nyan's statement comes as Rwandan ministers and top officials join the growing trend of public officials donating their salaries to the fight against COVID-19 and supplied at no cost to the beneficiaries, food, safe drinking water and even tax waivers or reductions.

But in Liberia, this has not been the case. Although the country currently has 14 cases, with 3 deaths and 3 recoveries, those numbers are expected to rise in the next 24 to 72 hours as health authorities await second tests on nearly a dozen already tested positive after one test. Two positive tests are required before an announcement is made.

The number of confirmed positive cases continue to spike, even as concerns grow over the government's inability to adequately track those who came in contact with infected COVID-19 patients.

Support Trial Vaccine for COVID-19 in Africa

Meanwhile, Dr. Nyan has said that he supports the idea of two French doctors to conduct trials of a vaccine for COVID-19 in Africa. The proposal by the French doctors has been described as a racist remark by many celebrity and medical practitioners.

"It is unfortunate that the perception about what the two doctors suggested became a continental or racial issue. But all through history, no vaccine has been tried on persons already affected with a sickness for whose cure the very vaccine was made. Africa is less affected now and should there be a vaccine today, the continent would be a good ground for the test," he said.

"It is not that easy as people may think," Dr. Nyan added. "We want a quick solution but the processes involved are always complex. Time is needed to perfectly complete a scientific invention, mainly in medicine."

Concerning the use of chloroquine and some other antibiotics as recommended by some health practitioners or pharmaceuticals, Nyan said, it is not a straight jacket answer to the fight against the virus.

"The virus, once in the body of a person, he or she shows some signs and symptoms. Cough, cold, sneezing, and many other symptoms are also associated with other sicknesses like malaria, among others. Therefore, one kind of treatment is no solution now," he said.

According to him, while some people may survive through the use of chloroquine and some other drugs, it is also clear that chloroquine is toxic and has several different ugly reactions on patients.

Patients' Confidentiality

As said in previous interviews, Dr. Nyan reiterated that the Liberian government has to step up its game in managing patients' information.

"Globally, there are health regulations that patients' records should be kept secret when needed by approved persons or institutions but it should not be a game of bias. They began calling the names of the first confirmed cases, but today, some other government officials said to have come down with COVID-19 are concealed from the public," he noted.

He said it would even help in contact tracing if the name of a prominent person said to have come down with COVID-19 is called and made public.

"One one of the reasons why people are resisting those who carry out the awareness of people preventing themselves from the Coronavirus is because they don't trust their government. There have been many contradictions in the fight against corruption and other vices eating up the fabric of the country," he said.

Nyan added: "Let the people themselves take the lead. Train them in their communities. Involve their leaderships and trust will be rebuilt. They will listen to those they take the prevention messages to and the listeners too will also do the same."

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