‘Coronavirus the Greatest Threat to Liberia’s Health, Well-being Since Ebola’

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President George M. Weah

Nationwide Broadcast by H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic Of Liberia on the Coronavirus Pandemic 

(As delivered, March 16, 2020)

My fellow citizens and foreign residents:

I would like to speak directly to you today concerning the Coronavirus Pandemic, which is rapidly spreading around the world.

The spread of this virus represents the greatest threat to the health and well-being of the people of Liberia since the Ebola epidemic suffered by our country from 2014 to 2016.

Let me assure you that Government is taking every precaution and action to protect our borders and ports of entry.  However, in spite of these arrangements, I regret to inform you that Liberia has recorded a confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus.

The infected person is Mr. Nathaniel Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who arrived in Liberia on Brussels Airlines on Friday night, the 13th of March.  Along with several other officials of Government traveling on the same flight, Mr. Blama chose not to be quarantined, in keeping with the health protocols that were in place at the airport.

An intensive tracing exercise is underway to identify and test all persons with whom he came into contact.  Meanwhile, all other persons who traveled on that flight and by-passed the mandatory screening protocols, are being made to report to the health authorities immediately and without any further delay, for testing.

Any other persons who attempt to by-pass screening at any port of entry will be arrested and taken into compulsory quarantine.

I want to assure the Liberian people that the situation is under professional management by the health authorities, who have adequately prepared themselves well in advance for this eventuality.  There is no need to panic.  I ask that all of you should remain calm, and report any suspicious medical behavior to the authorities for our own safety.

It is very important that we all follow the guidelines set out by the health authorities, and adapt our behavior accordingly.

MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In view of the above, it is necessary to take certain immediate actions in response to this threat.

  1. There must be a strong focus on hygiene from every individual and organization.
  2. Everyone should wash their hands often, several times a day, with soap and running water, and use hand sanitizers, wherever available and affordable.
  3. All offices, businesses schools, churches, and places of public gatherings should provide hand-washing facilities at their entrances.
  4. There should be NO HANDSHAKING whatsoever. Use a nod of your head for greeting each other.
  5. My impending national county tour is hereby postponed due to this new development on the coronavirus situation.
  6. All travels to and from all countries with over 200 or more Corona Virus cases are hereby banned
  7. All citizens and residents are urged to avoid public gatherings and large crowds, and try to keep a minimum social distance of at least 6 feet from people with fever, cough, sneezing, and difficulty in breathing.
  8. Non-essential travel by all officials of government is hereby banned
  9. All non-essential employees of the government are hereby granted a paid leave until further notice. The Civil Service Agency will announce the roster of employees in this category
  10. Minimize your travel within Liberia, and to and from abroad, to that which is absolutely necessary. This refers specifically to cross-border traders and travelers coming to Liberia from infected countries, and applies particularly to all Government officials.

As President, I will remain focused at the highest level of leadership and concern, until this threat has been neutralized.  However, as Liberia has now moved from the precautionary stage, to a containment stage, we will need your fullest support and cooperation as you change your behavior to follow the simple guidelines and measures that have been recommended above.

We will also be relying on the cooperation and support of our international partners as we work together to eliminate this deadly virus from our country.

Please take note, and govern yourselves accordingly.

God bless you all.

I thank you.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I knew it came about by indiscipline, as always characterized by CDCians on the national level.
    When they go to Europe or the USA, they respect every little rule. Because he’s an EPA boss, he wanted to show he was above the law, merde!

    Sorry for the innocent people he would create stupid trouble for.
    Liberians must learn to abide by rules. Our country is lagging because of such behavior. Pass through the normal medical point and get yourself checked, Mr. man. We are undergoing a critical health hazard.
    It happened with Ebola, now Coronavirus, why?

  2. Once an individual’s connection is with Weah, he or she can break the law and get by with impunity. Unfortunately, one cannot run a government like how he or she runs a private football club.

    Impunity and indiscipline from the top has emboldened many of Weah’s appointees, tribal associates, and so forth to flout the law and go scot-free. For example: How many times have Liberians not read the daily tabloid newspapers, visit the social media, listen to talk show hosts concerning the flippant behavior of finance minister Tweah towards the judiciary and the legislative branches, and yet the president has remained silent.

    How different is the EPA director’s behavior from Tweah? It is no different. The only exception is that the president often conducts double standards when it comes to enforcing the laws of the state.

    Mr. Blama’s disregard for international best practices and protocols regarding this disease occurred at the wrong time. Other than that, believe or not, Weah would have condoned Mr. Blama’s actions had the issue not risen to the level of a pandemic and claimed global attention like the way it has done.

  3. IT’S A PUBLIC SAFETY DANGER TO IGNORE HEALTH SAFETY PROTOCOLS

    I was just watching President Weah’s national-wide address with reference to the first case of the Coronavirus( COVID-19) in Liberia. I was too stunned when he mentioned that Mr. Nathaniel Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia “ …chose not to be quarantined, in keeping with the health protocols that were in place at the airport.” It is very ironic for an environmental protection director to ignore the health safety measures put in place by the health professionals of the country. He should have been one of the key enforcers of such measure but instead he chose to be the first violator. While it is impossible to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, it is not impossible to slow down the spread of the disease. Self-isolation and mandatory quarantine, which Mr. Blama ignored, have been the effective methods used worldwide to slow the spread of the virus.

    I am very much bewildered by Mr. Blama’s action. Is he well informed internationally about the potential danger of this virus? Knowing very well that he is coming from Europe, the second hotspot of the Coronavirus outside of China, did he not think that he could carry the virus? If he does not have the health safety of the Liberian people at heart, what about his own family in his home, his wife and children? Is he aware of the economic constraints that this coronavirus out-break is putting on the richest countries of the world and the devastating effects its nationwide spread may have on Liberia’s very poor economy? Did he calculate the fact that the richest countries that do help poor nations in the time of natural and man- made disasters are right now only focusing their resources on their countries and their citizens? Did he remember how many Liberians lost their lives to the Ebola Virus before the international community came to the aid of the country?

    The President also mentioned that there were other people who travelled on the same flight with Mr. Blama but also “by-passed the mandatory screening protocols” and “are being made to report to the health authorities immediately and without any further delay, for testing.” Who are those people? Are they also some government officials or ordinary people? What are those people and Mr. Blama thinking? Do they think the COVID-19 is a fake or a joke? This disease is very real. It knows no border, and it does not care who you are. It has no travelling documents but yet it is internationally active. It is taking lives at alarming rates in some rich and developed nations and those nations are taking tough measures to deal with the crises. This disease is deadly and according to medical sources, people who are in their 70 years and up, and people with pre-existence medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness are most at risk. Please, let us take it seriously and follow health safety rules that have been internationally observed.

    I would like to suggest that if those people who by-passed the screening protocols are traced and tested positive for the Coronavirus or not, they must face the full weight of the law for the violation of the public health safety protocols put in place by the Liberian health professions. This will help to ensure the deterrent of further violations and to send out the message that no one is above the law.

    Since the worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus, I have been fervently praying for our African Nations and most especially my birth country, Liberia and its people. It has been my prayer that God , in His divine mercy and love, will protect our people. Although the virus has entered the county, I pray that God may stop it from spreading further. May He grant strength, courage, love, and wisdom our health professionals as they deal with this deadly virus. May He protect them and their families. May God also grant the leadership of Liberia and the people in authorities the love and ardent desire to always seek to put the nation and its people first.

    Chei Bargeboe

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