COVID-19 Infections too Close to Seat of Power

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President George Weah

Given the trend of some of Liberia’s most senior security and administrative officials at the fore-front of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic infected with the disease, many in the public have expressed grave concern that the President, George M. Weah, might be infected. However the Executive mansion asserts that the President is in “excellent health”.

“The public is assured that the President of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, is safe and excellent in health,” said Isaac Solo Kelgbeh, Press Secretary to the President, in a statement.

Not only have the coronavirus cases in the country reached 7 counties, spiking to 134 up from 117, with 16 deaths, the government security apparatus might soon come to a standstill as three top security personnel have been tested positive and a another person dead, all from the virus.

The affected officials include Frank Musa Dean, Minister of Justice, Sadatu Reeves, Deputy Police Director for Administration and Marcus Zeahyoue, a senior official of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

These high-ranking security officials were tested positive after coming in contact with Marcus Soko, the late head of the Drug enforcement the agency who became the country’s first senior government official to die from the coronavirus.

They met on April 11, 2020, during a joint security meeting that were attended by scores of security officials including Mary Broh and Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, who earlier this week tested positive for the virus.

Min. Nagbe is the fourth person from that meeting so far to have tested positive as many more awaited their results.

Mr. Soko’s death means there is a huge chance that many of his direct contacts from the meeting might likely test positive for the virus since they interacted with him without a face mask or any protective gear.

If more of Soko’s direct contacts test positive as the days ahead since most of them are waiting their first or second test result, it would lead to a serious spillover as those contacts have their direct contact.

While the total number of persons who attended the meeting is unknown, it has been reported that Major General Prince Johnson, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Senators Steven Zargo, Jonathan L. Kaipay, and Conmany Wisseh, all attended the meeting.

Other attendees were officials from the Ministry of National Defense, the National Security Agency, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, and the National Security Advisor to the President.

“I am hopeful. The doctors at 14 Military Hospital are very professional and doing their best,” Minister Dean said as he expressed the optimism of recovery. “Remember, the virus is posing a challenge to even developed countries, with far more sophisticated health systems. At the moment, no one knows everything about the virus. We must continue to observe the health protocols, especially as it relates to social distancing.”

It is yet unclear, why the joint security apparatus decided to host such meeting in the first place without the use of technology, such as Zoom, to host the meeting in order to minimize physically gathering, since the health status of everybody in the meeting were unknown.

The meeting, which had more than 12 persons in attendance, was in clear violation of the government health protocol banning large public gathering and even going against social distancing rule since it was held in a tight area.

It also goes against President George Weah’s call for all Liberians to exercise caution, by following the COVID-19 prevention protocol.

“We can defeat this virus if we all commit ourselves to respect all the measures that have been outlined.  If we are undisciplined, we will be the cause for it to spread,” the President said in a speech to the nation on April 8, 2020, just three days before the joint security briefing. “But if we behave properly, and observe all regulations and health measures, we can also be the cure that will stop Corona in our country.”

Meanwhile, the government has been tight-lipped on whether Reeves, Dean, and Nagbe came in direct contact with the president or vice president or other closed associates of the nation’s two highest officials.

By law, the minister of justice is required to brief the President at the head of a joint security meeting or after the meeting.

Higher death rate alarming

As the government struggled to contain the further spread, its higher death rate, according to experts is alarming.

With 16 deaths as of Monday, the country’s death rate is at 12% as of 26 April 2020 compared to Italy’s death rate to date is 13.48%; UK is 13.56%; France is 14%; and Spain 10% while the US is 5.6%.

The country’s higher death rate comes barely less than three weeks after Liberia chief infection disease expert Dr. Mosoka Fallah makes a scaring revelation that 300 Liberians are out in the public space infected.

According to Health Minister, Wilhelmina Jallah, “only one out of the 16 deaths came from the treatment center, which is Marcus Soko.

“Liberia’s death rate is so far higher, unlike other neighboring Countries, because we are testing dead bodies, unlike our sisterly Countries and this is why our report is the way it is, for now,” Dr. Jallah added.

Dr. Jallah warned people not to rely on ventilators because 80% of people who went through the ventilators,  did not survive as such people should not depend on ventilators and stay home until it is too late.

So far, the country has reported 133 cases and 25 recoveries and is yet to conduct more than 50 tests per day, although it claimed that it has the capacity to do 300 tests per day.

The lack of enough testing, according to expert, Liberia Coronavirus cases would be higher than reported.

Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, former head of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), currently a Senior Research Associate and Expert with the International Health Department, Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University, says Increasing the number of tests per day may give the real infection rates, which are why testing is crucial. “Test, test, test, contact tracing, contact tracing, contact tracing, removing the sick and isolating them requires creating more bed spaces. Liberia needs 1,000 treatment beds space by now.”

‘Government cannot do it all’

In a related development, Dr. Jallah has called on citizens to join the fight against COVID-19 because the health workers only cannot handle the fight against the virus.

Dr. Jallah told Journalists at the Ministry’s regular press conference Monday, April 27, 2020, “that it is about time Liberians take advantage of the 14 days given to them by President George Weah and work together as one nation and people to ensure the battle against COVID-19 is won.

“During the additional 14 days lockdown period, health authorities will expect to see more enforcement, more compliance with the health protocols by the people, communities active and full involvement in the fight against the virus,” she added.

Author

  • Hannah N. Geterminah is a 2016 graduate of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism with diploma and series of certificates in journalism from other institutions. She has lots of knowledge/ experience in human interest, political, Health, women and children stories. Hannah has worked with the Daily Observers Newspaper and the Liberian media for the past years and has broken many stories. Contact reporter; [email protected] WhatsApp;0770214920

12 COMMENTS

  1. It is very amazing to hear people criticized when out of office, and couldn’t do the very thing that being talk about when they were in control of the situation. Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah once spearheaded the NPHIL and was accused of misused of public funds, he was never arrested, nor charged, neither extradited to Liberia to face trial for his alleged crime, but sits in his comfort zone in America and recommending about how Liberia need thousand beds for covid19 treatment centres.

    I wonder if he is listening to himself or could just asked himself, maybe the money I took from Liberia or accused of, might have just be used to purchase the thousand bed needed in Liberia to help in difficult times like this in our republic. I really wonder if question like this ever cross his imagination considering what he is being accused of? Instead, he is a free individual that never thought of purchasing a thousand medical beds for Liberia during his leadership at NPHIL and recommending for them now. What a elephant meat Liberia has become?

  2. Really Elephant meat my bro. Watch out for another Corruption after the entire crisis again. They do it and go in impunity. This too is Lib

  3. While we wish recovery for those officials of government who have tested positive due to the security meeting attended, it is also very regrettable that they ignored the health regulations put in place by them. The government through the President and Minister of Health asked citizens to avoid shaking hands, practice social distancing, wear face masks, etc. Interestingly, these announced protocols predated the security meeting by more than a month.

    What is so discouraging is that when government officials or those in public offices of trust who should be leading by examples, are rather the law-breaker-in chief. This is like kicking yourselves in the legs, like it is normally said. It is a disservice to the nation, disrespect and totally unacceptable. It has to stop since leaders are to be people that can be trusted to play by the rules of the game. Unfortunately, in Liberia, this is always not the case. And the high practice of impunity exasperates the already bad situation.

    Hopefully, Liberia can learn from this and work towards building a nation where public leaders and all who are entrusted with leadership respinsibilities can be held to the highest level of accountability, and be law abiding. Nothing to the contrary is acceptable.

    May God have mercy and save the nation from COVID-19.

    • Maybe Liberians will learn something from this? Liberians don’t learn shit from history. This corrupt government is doing the same shit that caused the war – that’s how dumb our so-called leaders are. Maybe, just maybe this virus will eliminate some of the real bad ones. Don’t feel sorry for these a**holes.

  4. Megalomania (power drunkenness) does to a dictator what it is doing to Weah now. Megalomania makes the average dictator to feel invincible and above God.

    A visit to the Doe community will support what I am saying. In this community stands a monument of Weah heralding to the the world and Liberia in particular that he is the god and the savior of the Liberian slaves.

    And by this token, he has become the most omnipotent one. Liberia does not have a small god though! Liberia’s god, Weah, is an usual god because he is the god above all the gods. Nevertheless, many keen observers have become confounded and are now asking why is he finding it difficult to set the captives free. Did he finally drink out of the cup of corruption and fallen prey to its evil and somnambulistic (sleep- walking) effects?

    O, well, he will wake-up from that sleep one day. I hope that day not be too late.

  5. No one know what exactly happened in the hall during their security meeting. Whether they observed the health protocols or not. There is common Liberians saying that goes ‘ the law makers are the law brokers’. This continuous spike of the virus amongst those attendees clearly sent a message that they didn’t respect the health measures put in place by themselves. Or if possible, they ended up in merit making during or after the meeting as we know Liberians. If the virus continue to circulates one sided like this, then what they should hold the entire country hostage? are the poor paying the prize for that? They ill-advised the President for such an action, or may be they was not understanding they word lock down.Ebola killed 11,000 plus people, although we no tearfully willing to see deadlier days again, but the country was not lock downed. even Foya where the Ebola virus emanated there was free movement. The west that initiated the idea of lockdown has come to realized that the strategy implies to curb the spread of the virus was not best, because they continue to died in homes and hospitals; today they are forcing way to reopen their countries. The 25m stimulus package that was pronounced by the government, up to date we cannot see any of those strategies layout by the government to ease the lockdown activities most especially for the less fortunes or slum dwellers in place.

    Liberia’s most always try to be a sovereign state. Meaning, you have the ability to deeply think on issues surrounding the given period that would best suit you as a nation. The module of our leaders continuous hastiness to copying ideas from other countries proves them unworthy and incompetent to lead this nation. That’s why this country continue to linger in poverty. Some well meaning African countries that felts that they are unable to support the lockdown during and after, they refused to lockdown and their countries are doing well to compare to us. You want to compare yourself with other countries notably the US that dished up the credible amount of two trillions toward the support of the lockdown, the worthy sum that even you sell Liberia’s including the entire populace cannot reach to said amount.

    I hope that as other countries set to reopen their economics by Monday, we should also follow suit for the benefit of all of us, or else, if the government continue to insists instead without workable plan of actions to contains the spread of the virus, will simply be translated that the government really meant business to suffer it citizens which could possibly leads to civil disobedience which we do not want see.

  6. Please, people, the protocols on lockdown, wearing of face masks, and social distancing should be taken seriously – not time for the national nonchalance.

  7. Michael S. Solee

    Weah is a gun with two chambers. When he is speaking, he hides one chamber and pretend like he is speaking only through one.

    He said that he was infusing 25 mln dollars into the economy to sooth the COVID-19 impact against the poor folks. You, like I, were hoping that it would really happen. However, unfolding events are seemingly telling us that those lines he was telling the public were nothing but deceit.

    One has to always pay keen attention to the hidden chamber of Weah’s mouth, and he or she would discover that he always doublespeak just to take the pressure off him. The man is a congenital liar!

  8. One thing I am very sure of in life is the power of God and not man made authority. The part about this covid19 that is attacking our government is that, they can not leave from Liberia to anywhere for help. They are compelled to stayed in the country and get treated like any other Liberian will do. No body will leave from Liberia to Europe or America for treatment as usual. If this don’t give our Liberian government a reasons to invest a little bit more in our health system after this, if they survive to tell their stories, the bigger one, I mean the covid19,is yet to come according to Dr, Fuche. The good news is, nobody is going nowhere and all they have is their poor health facilities to get them well.

  9. The Lowest of the Lows

    Mr. Ryne Brigile, If I understand what you wrote about Weah being a “god” of the Liberian People. We should also say that Mr. George Washington (first American President ) was a “god”, or still a “god” of the American people? His statues are all over America. He kept slaves at his mansion in Virginia. He was not elected through a popular vote by all the American people. Black man and female didn’t vote at that time. We in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Liberia, denigrate our leaders and made them to be like a flying loaf.

    I m not a fan of President Weah, I did not Vote for him either. I was not in Liberia during the election. However; Liberians voted for him in. Those Liberians that voted for him, exercised their constitutional rights, and their rights should be respected. Mr. Weah had statue erected in his honor since 1996 on Broad Street when he was playing in Europe. Friends of individuals erect statues in their honor, to appreciate their good works. Everyone don’t have to agree to an individual’s statue. However; we should not call anyone “god”, because we do not like him/her. Our poor people do not ‘pray’ to George Weah. He was voted as president of Liberia. If you think you have the charisma to move people, well; go ahead and run your campaign. Friends who love you, will erect a statue in your honor.

    All those Confederates Generals who loss America Civil War, still have their statues in most Southern Confederate States. Are those Generals Americans’ ‘god’? Per your analysis, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jung Un, Mao Zedong, Nathan Bedford Forest, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, etc., are all North Korean, Chinese and American “gods”, respectively. ummmmmmm’. Even leader who telling their citizens to inject themselves with disinfectants, will one day be their ‘god’ too.; if his statues are erected.
    To my fellow Liberians, having anger toward everyone reaching success in society, is just unproductive. You can criticize a leader, but to the point of saying people are praying to him, that is the lowest of the lows.
    Thank you…no offense.
    M.S Bah, Meridian Health.

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