The Government of Liberia has deployed armed police officers to restore law and order in Tappita, after some citizens allegedly stormed their way into the quarantine center under the belief that the release of Jeremiah Gayflor who was once confirmed positive of COVID-19 would affect the rest of the population in Tappita also.
The deployment of the armed police, according to the Tappita city mayor was done in order to curb any repeat of such acts including lawless behavior which the Mayor of Tappita, Sam Kpahn, has attributed to ignorance on the part of locals.
On Friday, May 1, a group of citizens forcefully intruded into the compound where some individuals suspected of being infected by the virus or having come in contact infected individuals were quarantined.
According to Steve Dehmie, a spokesperson of the Concern Citizens of Tappita, the family of Jeremiah Gayflor began jubilating upon hearing that after two weeks of quarantine he had been diagnosed negative and declared free of COVID-19.
“When the citizens heard that Jeremiah had tested negative of the virus, they began dancing and moving towards the compound where individuals traced to him were also quarantined,” he said.
“Innocently, they entered the compound to embrace their loved ones and thinking that they all were going to be set free,” Dehmie added.
He said, those involved in the jubilation were all women and children, and they were very peaceful, rejoicing to dispel the sentiment that Tappita is a hotspot of COVID-19.
Since the incident, video footage showing citizens running amok in Tappita has gone viral on social media.
But the Concerned Citizen spokesperson, Delmie has maintained they left the hospital surroundings after they observed that the quarantine period had not expired for the rest of those held at the facility.
“We were surprised to see armed police deployed at the hospital as if to say we are lawless,” he added. “How do we go to the hospital for treatment, when it is heavily guarded by well-armed men,” he asked.
All efforts to get the views of both the County Health Officer and the Administrator of JFD via mobile phone could not materialize, as their phones rang endlessly.
But it can be recalled that the citizens have been at loggerheads with the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saybah Vanyabah since it was alleged last year that most of the major medical equipment in the hospital were relocated to other hospitals by the current management.
Citizens went on the rampage at the time in protest against the alleged act. Their action was followed by a virtual war of words on the local radio and social media.
It can also be recalled that recently, the citizens raised another concern over the release of the body of Don Patrick, (who died from COVID –19) to his family for burial.
The concern that health workers, being fully aware that the man died of the deadly disease, decided to give the body to the family prompted their action because they believed, the release of the corpse would have exposed the entire community to danger. They had even threatened a lawsuit against Dr. Vanyabah for allegedly exposing the community to danger. But as regards this contention, Dr.Francis Keteh, Chief Medical Officer of Liberia has said that once the person is dead the virus is no longer active.
In a related development, the first batch of people quarantined since the death of Don Patrick nearly a month ago was released on Friday, May 1, 2010, after spending nearly one month in quarantine in Tappita. It was this release that apparently sparked speculations that people forced themselves into the compound to release the people according to observers.
“We did not break the quarantine, neither did we leave the compound by ourselves,” said Jojo, one of the quarantined individuals. “We were released by the health and city authorities, after time expired,” he said.