Harpers, Maryland County – With the total number of active cases of COVID-19 now 100 in the country, according to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, people in the southeastern county of Maryland are hoping that the virus will have a lesser toll on them.
The county recorded its first case in the populated Pleebo City in April after a 28-year-old man tested positive for the virus. And now, the sense of confidence in the health sector is gradually fading off the minds of the ordinary people.
Residents are afraid that the county does not have a quarantine center. This is also based on the fact that the county’s health system is struggling due to the lack of adequate manpower, equipment and medical supplies.
“Many days, people will go at the hospital and be told to buy tablets for malaria, typhoid and other common illness here,” said Susana Weah, a marketer of the New Kru Town Market in Harper, who added that people will have to fight the virus by abiding by the preventive measures.
Francis Jeh, a motorcyclist in Pleebo who said he’s bracing for the worst, added: “From the look of things, it is no doubt that coronavirus is very fast spreading in Liberia. Cases are recorded almost every day in the last two or so weeks, so it is scaring, particularly for a place like here [Maryland County] where you do not see any sign of preparedness on the part of the health team.”
Patrick Nya Wleh, a resident of Zone 4 Community in Pleebo, said preparing isolation center with the necessary equipment to receive patients is a challenge that Maryland County must strive to conquer.
Citizens here are saying the county is still at a dangerous stage so they are encouraging each other to stay at home and practice social distancing, Wleh said.
“This place is not safe, the virus is here, and there is no need to doubt it. As a patriotic Liberian, I am informing my community members to be very careful by always keeping distance,” he added.
Meanwhile, Erskine David, President of Gentleman Club – an all male organization in the county – said that “although there is fear among citizens here in Maryland since the first case came out, there is no name to be panicked.”
He called on the community to work together and at the same time observe all the preventive measures.
“What we need now as a people, especially we the ordinary people, is to respect the health workers and government – that’s the only way we can kick coronavirus out of Liberia, ” he added.
While people are worried about the porous health system, others are concerned about the economic hardship created by the outbreak.
Bryant S. Toe is a resident of Burgo Hill Community in Harper; he says the coronavirus pandemic has made living difficult in the county.
“We live in a society where we are used to reaching one another and everything is brought in either from Ivory Coast or Monrovia for daily living. Coronavirus has stopped it. Most goods are not coming and we cannot visit. It’s hard”, Bryant lamented.
“Right now we cannot sleep in peace, fearing it may spread if not properly handled by the health workers, and we do not want to be the next victims”.