The head of Liberia’s Incident Management System is calling on citizens not to panic over the rebirth of Ebola, six weeks after the country was declared free of the virus.
Minister Tolbert Nyensuah said the government has enough energy and capacity to contain the latest outbreak.
He was speaking at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism regular press briefing in Monrovia.
On June 28, 2015, a 17-year-old boy who lived in Nedowein, Margibi County, far from the borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone was tested, confirmed, and died of Ebola.
The health minister admitted that it is not clear how and from whom the boy contracted the disease before passing on, and urged Liberians to remain vigilant in battling Ebola.
He further mentioned that health authorities in Liberia are robustly investigating the situation and there is no need to be afraid.
"We have reactivated our Ebola Treatment Units across the country. Contact tracing is ongoing, and all of the systems to combat Ebola are now working,’’ says the Deputy Health Minister.
He argued that the government was aware there could be a re-occurrence of the virus.
Minister Tolbert Nyensuah also told the government news conference in Monrovia that Liberia is beginning a new count down of 21 days.
"Once a new case is reported you are no longer free,’’ he said.
"We are urging the public to keep washing their hands and follow all the Ebola protocols to safeguard their family, community and country. We knew that this day was on its way, and we are asking people to be calm,’’ Nyensuah said.
He pointed out that "our anticipation is that we can contain the situation and border closure is not the option."
Minister Tolbert Nyensuah concluded saying, since the May 9 declaration, the government of Liberia had been coordinating with Guinea and its counterparts.’’
For her part, Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn said it is likely that additional cases will be found in the country, but at this point, this is the only confirmed case.
She noted if any there are others, it would still be a cluster, just as there had been a cluster for 40 days.
The key is to stop it, find the source, and prevent the next one, said Dr. Dahn.
"I think Ebola wants to test our resilience, though we have strengthened surveillance to allow us to respond quickly,’’ she concluded.
Just six weeks ago, the World Health Organization had declared Liberia an Ebola-free country. More than 11,000 people died of the disease since December 2013, with the vast majority of them in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.