MONROVIA, Liberia — A young woman who died hours after being admitted to an Ebola treatment unit on Sunday became the second Ebola fatality since Liberia was declared free of the virus on May 9, government officials said on Wednesday.
Even though her name was on a contact list, monitors at first failed to detect that the woman had become symptomatic, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, a deputy minister who heads Liberia’s Ebola response system.
The woman, who was the sixth Liberian to become infected since May 9, was being quarantined in her family home in Paynesville, a city on the edge of Monrovia. Another member of the household who had been infected was removed from the home earlier. According to the health officials, all six of the Ebola patients were part of the same cluster as a 17-year-old man whose body tested positive for the virus before he was buried in another community a short distance from Liberia’s international airport.
According to health care workers, people whose names are on the contact list and are under quarantine are supposed to be visited daily by monitors who take their temperature and assess their health. Mr. Nyenswah said the woman had reportedly taken medicine to suppress her fever, and he ordered an investigation to determine “what went wrong with this case that somebody was on a contact list, that they were not picked up immediately.” He said monitors were being retrained to assess each contact’s overall condition.
“She was home, and the home was being monitored,” Mr. Nyenswah said. “People should not panic and be afraid.”
Scientists and epidemiologists have yet to find the source of infection, but have determined through genetic sequencing tests that the virus in the 17-year-old was similar to viruses circulating in the region last year.
Eleven people are currently in an Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, government health workers said. Two have since recovered and are scheduled to be released this weekend, Mr. Nyenswah said. Others are either undergoing treatment or are being monitored for the virus.