2nd Ebola Case Declared In Liberia As Health Workers Protest
July 2, 2015
MONROVIA, Liberia — Health workers stormed the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, demanding benefits as Liberia confirmed its second case of Ebola, seven weeks after the country was declared free of the virus.
More than 100 Ebola center workers besieged the entrances to the building, defying police officers deployed there to quell the unrest.
"We suffered during Ebola, and they promised to pay $5,000 each," said Alice Tweh, who served as a nurse during the outbreak.
Protesters threatened to return Thursday. "We need our money. They can't treat us like that. People died, still they don't want to give our money," said Justin Rogers, another nurse.
Miatta Gbanyan, deputy head of Liberia's Ebola Incidence Management Team, said the government has made hazard payments to nearly 12,500 health workers at Ebola treatment units.
Health Minister Bernice Dahn said 99% of those who worked in such units received hazard pay, according to the Associated Press. Those who don't feel they've been paid adequately "should come forward" to the ministry, she added.
The announcement of a second Ebola case in just two days shattered hopes Liberia had defeated the disease when it was declared free of the deadly virus May 9 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Liberian officials said Wednesday the second case was found in the same village in Margibi County where Tuesday's case was confirmed in a teenager who died. The latest patient was moved to Monrovia, Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said, according to the AP.
Joyce Gbee, 21, who lives in the same house as the latest Ebola patient and the deceased 17-year-old, said the two victims were friends. Gbee and others close to the victims have been quarantined.
The WHO said it has identified 102 people who came into contact with the two infected individuals, and the number is expected to climb, the AP reported.
The Unification Town Clinic where the first victim went for treatment has also been quarantined.
Liberia has suffered more than any other West African country in the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. More than 4,800 Liberians have died since the first case surfaced in December 2013. Overall, more than 11,200 people have been killed by the virus in West Africa.
Nyenswah said Tuesday that he was confident Ebola's spread is under control. The national health system's ability to "quickly detect the (new) case means our system is working and is able to deal with any situation. No need to panic at this moment," he said.
Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesman, said, "Although this (Liberia Ebola death) is not the situation we were hoping for, this incident shows that the alert system is working, that there is the capacity to quickly identify, isolate, treat and track every contact and stop further spread of the disease. It is critical that the Liberian people remain vigilant."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said one of its rapid-response teams was assisting with the investigation of the boy's death.
At the peak of the outbreak, Liberia reported 300 to 400 new cases each week. Last fall, President Obama sent nearly 3,000 U.S. troops to Liberia to build treatment centers, train health care staff and conduct laboratory tests of body fluids to confirm diagnoses of the disease.
That deployment dwindled to a few dozen troops in recent months and officially ended Tuesday with all servicemembers pulling out of the nation, said Kymberley Jurado, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Africa.
Source: By Samwar Fallah and Gregg Zoroya USA Today