Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer says there are now five confirmed Ebola cases in the country since the death of a 17 year old boy in Margibi County.
Speaking during the weekly press conference at the Ministry of Information on Thursday, July 9, Dr. Francis Katteh disclosed the first case, was the 17 year old boy who has died and the other four cases are at the ELWA Ebola treatment Unit undergoing treatment.
He said there are currently seven patients in ELWA ETU: four are undergoing treatment and three are classified as suspected cases.
120 people have been placed under participatory precautionary observation and 11 are considered to be ‘of high risk’. This means that there was a very high possibility that they came into contact with an Ebola patient while infectious.
Dr. Katteh states that the Ministry of Health will issue a press release about the original source of transmission on Friday, July 10, adding that the ministry will disclose the results of a test that will show more detailed information about the source of transmission. He said the test will not show how the boy got infected but will indicate if the virus originates in Sierra Leone, Guinea or from Liberia. The test will also be able to tell if the boy got infected by eating dog. If the test indicates that the boy got the virus in Liberia, CDC will to investigate if the boy got infected through sexual intercourse, by eating infected bushmeat or attending an unsafe burial.
A spokesperson for the CDC states that it is very unlikely that the boy has gotten infected through eating infected dog meat. It states that it is highly unlikely that a dog is a carrier for the Ebola virus.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kettah warns journalists to be careful when reporting on the Ebola virus. According to him, journalists should take preventive measures into consideration when reporting from the field to protect themselves against the virus. He ends with stating that he knows “that information is needed” and states that he will not “hide information from the press”.
He also asked members of the press to be mindful of what they do with the information they gather in the field. He requests that journalists remember that they are “dealing with people’s lives. Their life could be at risk depending on what you do”.