… awaits results of more blood tests

By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale, with agency report

Liberia government, yesterday, confirmed two new cases of Ebola after a teenager died of Ebola fever in the country, even as it said more results of blood tests are being awaited.

The confirmation came a day after Health Minister; Bernice Dahn, announced the first case of Ebola in Liberia, warning that it was “likely that we will find additional cases.”

Spokesperson for the country’s Health Department in Margibi County, Cestus Tarpeh, who confirmed the cases, added that a herbalist who had treated the boy had evaded the authorities and was on the run.

The new outbreak comes with the country still reeling from a nightmarish epidemic, which wrecked its health service and economy and left 4,800 Liberians dead.

Reports have it that before the new cases, Liberia had reported its last victim on March 20 and was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation on May 9.

The country’s media reported that the 17-year-old had fallen ill on June 21 and died three days later, although this had not been confirmed by government.

There were no immediate details either on the two new cases, as epidemiologists scrambled to trace and quarantine anyone else who may have had contact with the teenager.

The country’s neighbours, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are still battling the outbreak, which has killed more than 11,200 people across West Africa. But the coastal Margibi County, where the teenager died, is not near either border.

The health ministry said it had no reason to believe the teenager had visited either country and the source of his infection remains a mystery.

Also, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, described the new Ebola death as a warning to the world that the job was not done.

Meanwhile, residents of Monrovia have expressed fears that the Margibi outbreak would develop into a full-blown epidemic.

Experts are speculating that the latest victim could have been infected by an entirely new variation of the virus from an animal such as a fruit bat, rather than a human.


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