Coronavirus – Liberia: Improving response as Liberia marks two years since first COVID-19 case

Two years ago today, Liberia recorded its first COVID-19 case. The virus was first declared in Monrovia before spreading to other locations. So far, the country has recorded 7,397 cases and 294 deaths.

In the two years since, public health measures, including social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, improved testing, treatment, and surveillance have been crucial in curbing the spread of the virus. Vaccination is also being stepped up to help control the pandemic.

To mark this milestone, authorities that have been on the forefront leading in the response reflected on where they have come from thus far. 

“People in Liberia were scared when the first case was verified because they didn’t know what to anticipate and our health facilities were overburdened over time. It wasn’t easy, but with time, the general public learned more of the COVID-19 pandemic and began to take preventive measures seriously. The Ebola virus response experience aided us in quickly assembling all resources and fighting the pandemic”, narrated the Honourable Minister of Health- Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah.   

The government of Liberia instituted various players at all levels including the setup of a National Coordination Response team on COVID-19.

“When the first case was detected and confirmed everyone started to panic, we never thought COVID would come here but 1 person brought it in and changed the story- same as Ebola. We had to fight and we fought very hard. The incident management team with support from donor partners- worked very hard. We made sure we got the information to the communities- we went to the last mile. Yes, it was sad, a lot of people got exposed, others recovered and some did not make it,” exclaimed Madam Mary Broh, National Coordinator on the COVID-19 response. 

With strong coordinated efforts among donor partners supporting the government, Liberia moved swiftly into action on the ground.

“As a donor group, we coordinated well- moving IPC supplies around the country, this stood out to me as a good coordination example, as did community engagement – when we went into communities together to encourage COVID-19 testing,” said M.s Jessica Healy- USAID Health Director in Liberia. “I was also impressed with the Airport management, Starbase treatment center, oxygen plants, and improved Laboratory management which stand out as lasting sector improvements to outlive the pandemic and are areas of pride.”

World Health Organization (WHO) continues to support the country to bolster key pandemic response measures such as surveillance, testing, treatment, and community engagement. Throughout the pandemic, the Organization has also provided technical guidance and support and with its partners delivered crucial medical supplies and equipment to the country to combat the virus.

“We’ve been at the forefront of the efforts to beat back this pandemic and continue to support all the efforts the national authorities are undertaking to effectively tackle COVID-19 and keep people safe,” said. Dr. Peter Clement, WHO Representative in Liberia.

Vaccination remains a powerful weapon against this pandemic. WHO is working with partner organizations to step up the uptake in the country. So far 1,015,633 people have been fully vaccinated. More efforts are needed to reach the wider population to protect them from the risk of severe illness and death.

Expressing her appreciation Dr .Jallah said “We are a resilient people but COVID-19 has pushed us to the limit. This has demonstrated the importance of preparedness to respond efficiently to health emergencies and resulting in our ability to take messages on COVID-19 and vaccination to the last mile. We greatly appreciate the support of our partners- the United Nations led by WHO, USAID, CDC and many others, who particularly supported the Ministry of Health” 

“The past two years have been extremely challenging, but we’ve learned crucial public health lessons. We are emerging stronger and look forward to bolstering and improving the health system to be more resilient to future emergencies.” – Dr Peter Clement- WHO Representative Liberia.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization – Liberia.

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