The outbreak of Coronaviurs brought about the establishment of a working group called Incident Management System having five components; the Emergency Preparedness and Response; Laboratory System Strengthening, Case Management and Clinical Care; Community Engagement, Risk Communication and Advocacy, and Program Management and Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation.
The Community Engagement under Component 5 has the Ministry of Internal Affairs that is responsible to take messages to community and local leaders about the virus and how the government is making efforts to combat it, and with this responsibility, the MIA team having segmented community members into groups brought together motorcyclists under the Federation of Motorcycles and Tricycle Union on July 2, 2020, cautioning them about the widespread of the virus and steps they must take to prevent themselves from contracting it.
As of July 2, Liberia’s confirmed cases have risen to 819, death rate up to 37, and recoveries 338. Although Liberia is far below its neighbors Sierra Leone that has 1,498 confirmed cases, 999 recoveries and 60 deaths, and Guinea with 5,404 confirmed cases, 4,346 recoveries and 33 deaths; the Community Engagement pillar is of the concern that without precaution to prevent the virus from spreading, it is likely to exponentially spread beyond expectation.
Olayee Collins, Deputy Minister for Research and Development at the Internal Affairs Ministry, told motorcyclists on the Old Timer Sports pitch in Duport Road that many are still in the denial stage up to present, but it was not a good sign for the country because the virus is real and in Liberia.
Deputy Minister Collins emphasized that motorcyclists are one group of important people in the society nowadays because of their essential role played in the transport sector, but it was at the same time risky for them as they and travelers are in a close range that any of them can easily contract the disease.
“Where vehicles cannot reach, you go there with goods and people. This makes you guys very important in the society; so, when transporting people, please use your mask and tell the traveler with you to use his or her mask,” said Deputy Minister Collins.
He further urged the cyclists to do voluntary testing, a suggestion that many people including Liberian businessman and politician Simeon Freeman have proffered in recent days to determine how high or low the infection rate is in Liberia.
Reverend Luther Tarpeh, Board Chairman of the Federation of Motorcycle and Tricycle Union of Liberia, also emphasized the importance of cyclists in Liberia and urged them to take all preventive measures into consideration to keep safe.
“The wife of Bill Gates once predicted that when this virus hit Africa, it will kill a lot, but thank God that it is not as was predicted. Nevertheless, let us not take advantage of the low rates of the infection and death, and the high recoveries to deny the existence of the virus. It can spark up beyond imagination if we are not careful to observe the health protocols. So, please wear your masks, wash your hands and use sanitizers, and observe social distancing,” said Tarpeh.
The president of the Federation of Motorcycle and Tricycle Union, John Kenyor, told the cyclists that they should strive to uphold the health laws to prevent the disease from spreading so that cyclists will not be blamed for the unusual as the case has always been.
“Gone are the days when we were remembered in society for the wrong and bad things. We do not want the past days that motorcyclists were blamed for the bad things in society to come back, and what they are saying here today is to keep us safe and others also. Please, let us take this health issue seriously and apply all that they are telling us,” said Kenyor.
It may be recalled that weeks ago the Ministry of Internal Affairs organized and engaged the Soul Clinic and other communities in and around Monrovia in an interactive dialogue, soliciting views from the community leaders what they understand about the COVID-19 and what can they suggest to be the best way in addition to the existing health protocols to fight the disease.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded in West Africa and the Sahel the total of 83,358 confirmed cases, 45,754 recoveries and 1,549 deaths.