The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has appropriated the amount of US$1.5 million towards the Coronavirus pandemic, according to Senator(Dr) Peter Sonpon Coleman.
The latest appropriation comes when health authorities including Mosoka Fallah of National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and Deputy Health Minister Francis Kateh had appeared before the House of Representatives requesting the government to allot the health sector US$3 million to prepare for the disease as it rapidly spreads across the world.
Briefing the Senate on Thursday on the preparation of any possibility of the virus entering the country, Senator Coleman asserted that the government’s decision is intended to keep the health sector prepared to avoid the unfortunate situation that occurred during the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.
The Senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Gender, Health, and Social Welfare, informed his colleagues that the chairs of the Ways, Means, and Finance of both Houses are knowledgeable about the appropriation made by the Ministry of Finance, and assured that they will definitely bring same before the Legislature.
Dr. Coleman was responding to a concern raised by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence on the need to document everything that will be useful to start preparing for any eventuality of an outbreak. “We are concerned about the resources and what kind of capacity we have to handle such a situation; because we have a serious issue with the health system, with some hospitals down. I think it will be fair for us to have that documented, and to have the proper thing done when it comes to expenditure and planning, because we don’t know to what extent this will go, it might require more money and we don’t want to start making that mistake from the beginning.”
Senator Coleman disclosed that documentation is being concluded through the collaboration with Liberia’s international partners, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) through its West Africa sub-office in Accra, Ghana.
Dr. Coleman further disclosed that infrastructure is being erected where would-be infected individuals are to be taken care of, and that daily update is now taking place at the Ministry of Health on the Coronavirus. The government, Senator Coleman intimated, will soon be reintroducing the precaution method used during the outbreak of the Ebola virus-washing hands and avoiding handshake, and may include using mask if the country gets a confirmed case.
The Grand Kru County Senator also told plenary that about 311 people who entered the country from China this month are being traced and will be tested for symptom of the virus.
With regard to Liberian students and ordinary citizens currently in the affected areas in China, Dr. Coleman said the government has decided that instead of bringing them home, they stay in areas where they are already quarantined where they can get better care in an improved health environment.
As of last evening, there were reports of several countries evacuating their nationals from the epic center of the virus in Wuhan Province, as confirmed cases in China are now over 8,000, with deaths of 171.
Meanwhile, Vice President and President of the Liberian Senate, Jewel Howard Taylor, yesterday presided over the 6th sitting of the 3rd Session of the Senate, the first this month and last sitting day in January.