Flouting of COVID-19 Safety Measures Heightens Risk of Increased Cases in Nimba

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Many people in Ganta were not wearing nose masks, washing their hands, or observing social distancing, as is mandated by the Ministry of Health.

Despite a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, there is little sign that people are following the country’s health and safety protocols — which are designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 – during the celebration of Liberia’s 173rd Independence Day in Nimba County.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, there were no official celebration activities planned in the county, to commemorate the historical event. But following the end of the State of Emergency, which was meant to curtail the spread of the virus, streets and entertainment centers across the county have been crowded, especially by kids seeking recreation. Elsewhere, there were sporadic activities all across Ganta city, as people gathered to entertain themselves.

Many people were not wearing nose masks, washing their hands, or observing social distancing, as mandated by the Ministry of Health.

“I think COVID-19 is over now because nobody is observing the health protocols. Even the security, who should have enforced the health protocols, are not wearing masks,” said Mary Gomah, a street seller.

The city of Ganta is located close to Liberia’s border with Guinea. Traders from either side of the border cross to the other side to conduct commercial activities.

With the closure of the main border to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, some traders are using illegal border points.

“If we are stopped from going across for goods and abide by all health protocols, how will we sustain our family?” asks Oretha Kolor, a businesswoman in Ganta.

Recently, Nimba County Inspector Mark Gblinwon raised concerns about the surge in COVID-19 cases, highlighting an increase in the number of people entering and leaving the county, and said that the government needs to oversee border crossings – and put a stop to illegal entry or exit, at this time.

“We are calling on the joint security to be very careful along the borderline,” said the Nimba County Inspector, repeating his concerns about an increased in the spread of COVID-19, which has contributed to an ongoing cross-border movement at this time.

But the LIS Commander in Nimba County, Yar Dolopia, has denied the claim, saying the joint security, especially the LIS, was doing their work properly, despite the porosity of the borderline.

The joint security in Ganta in July this year was faced with a challenge when some disgruntled youth – commonly known as “Zogos” – opened their own crossing point around the Ganta Main Border, leading to the illegal crossing of people between Guinea and Liberia.

The joint security later cracked down on zogos and restored law and order by closing the illegal border point.

According to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), as of August 3, there was a total number of 1,216 confirmed COVID – 19 cases in Liberia – with Nimba County accounting for 55 of those confirmed cases, 10 deaths and 29 recoveries.

The county administration headed by Mr. Nelson Korquoi continues to call on residents to follow the health protocols, despite the government’s recently putting an end to the nation-wide state of emergency (SOE)

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