By Morrison O.G. Sayon from Lofa County
Lofa County, the epicenter of the vicious Ebola virus that has killed thousands of Liberians as well as foreign nationals has made significant strives in the war against the virus.
For the past three months there has been no reported new cases of the deadly virus as intimated by Philip Michael Forkpa, Hygienist Supervisor of the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Foya now Community Case Center following the departure of the charitable organization MSF that had been running the center during the heat of the health crisis.
“Thanks to the citizens who have remained vigilant and continue to observe all the health measures in every village and town because it was due to the resilience of the people of Lofa County that has caused the county to make such gains against the virus,” Forkpah stated.
Ebola started in Foya on March 19, 2014 when the first case was discovered at the FoyaBarma Hospital in the Northern County of Lofa. In the month of March 2014, authorities at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare reported the first case of the Ebola disease in Lofa County.
The disease later began to spread to other parts of the country amidst initial public denial. As the prevalence of the infection of the disease which began in Foya, intensified, several lives were lost, including those of many health workers.
Our Editor who just returned from the county was informed that Ebola is now becoming history in the entire county as the largest Ebola Treatment Center, the epicenter of the virus that has killed over three thousand people remains empty.
“For the past three months there has been no reported case of Ebola in this center, that is why MSF decided to cross over to Sierra Leone where the virus is raging,” Stanley Tokpah, the Construction Manager at the old ETU now referred to as Community Case Center (CCC) in Foya said.
It was also observed that it is now clear that Lofa County is nearly Ebola-free. Despite the significant gains being made against the virus, citizens of Lofa remain vigilant and continue to follow all the health measures to avoid the resurfacing of the killer disease in the county.
“Over the past three months, we have had no new reported cases of Ebola in this county,” Francis T. Forndia, Administrator of the FoyaBarma Hospital in Foya City disclosed. Mr. Forndia stated further that Lofa County has made significant gains against the vicious Ebola virus and that, that County could be declared Ebola-free in the coming months. He however expressed fear over the situation in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea calling on Lofians to remain vigilant.
“We can surely confirm that 99 percent of Lofa County is cleared of the virus but we must keep fighting the virus because our neighbors are still affected with Ebola,” Forndia referring to Guinea and Sierra Leone that are still highly affected by the virus said.
In the largest ETU in Foya, it was observed that there was no Ebola victim at the center and that the health situation at virus hospitals and clinics in Lofa is fast improving. “We are just receiving the normal cases of malaria, and common cases. Because no Ebola, we have resumed normal health services,” Dr. Moses F. Momolu, Officer-in-Charge at the Foya Community Clinic disclosed.
The INQUIRER’s investigative journalist also visited several health facilities and clinics in Lofa at which time health authorities said the situation is improving but complained of lack of logistics including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), drugs and other basic necessities to run the hospitals and clinics.
The reporter also visited the final resting home of over 1,500 Ebola victims which is situated in a land known as Leobengi, a strip of land lying about three kilometers north of Foya City, Lofa County.
He was also informed that in each of the graves about four to five persons are buried there since the burial teams became tired of digging several graves daily. “You see those graves back there, we just dumped the bodies there because people were dying too much and we could not dig graves for all of them,” a young man who preferred anonymity narrated.
Borders with neighboring countries including Guinea and Sierra Leone that are worst hit by the virus in recent times remain closed perpetually while as Lofians themselves are serving as security at the over twenty entry points in Lofa County to prevent any strange movement along the borders.
During the visit, our reporter also encountered some orphans whose parents died from the effect of the deadly Ebola virus. Some of the children are being cared for by neighbors and families who took them in following the death of their parents.