COVID-19 ‘One Million Masks’ Project on Course

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Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf (left) turns over masks to IMS Coordinator, Mary Broh, as Education Minister Ansu Sonii (seated) looks on.

330,000 now available for distribution to targeted groups

The Incident Management System, headed by General Services Agency (GSA) Director, Mary T. Broh, has received 330,000 out of 1 million locally produced masks that President George Weah promised to produce for the underprivileged people who cannot afford the cost of nose masks amid the Coronavirus.

The COVID-19 outbreak brought compulsory wearing of nose masks because health authorities say it is the best way of preventing the spread of the virus since it is airborne, and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and Ministry of Health have laid down a strict rule with stickers placed on cars and other vehicles, the the instructions: “No mask, no ride.”

Also, President George Weah, while declaring the lifting of the state of emergency on July 21, emphasized that the virus is not going along with the state of emergency, but is still around and the best ways to prevent its spread are constant hand-washing, social distancing, and wearing of the nose masks.

In order to have everyone access masks, the President, through the Incident Management System, invested L$1 million in the production of the masks by the Liberian Tailor Union.

Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf, who also heads the Community Engagement Pillar of the IMS, said: “Nose mask wearing is the way forward to reducing transmission of the virus.”

While presenting the 330,000 already on hand, Minister Sirleaf said 50,000 will go to students, another 50,000 to the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), and 5,000 to the petty traders.

GSA Director and Coordinator of the Incident Management System, Mary T. Broh, firmly pledged to enforce the compulsory wearing of the mask and to ensure that it reaches out to the targeted groups.

Madam Broh said Liberians should conduct research on Vietnam, where no death has been recorded since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, to find out why they have such an incredible success rate.

She, however, said there is not much of a secret behind the success of that Asian country that is not too far from the People’s Republic of China where the outbreak began, other than them (Vietnam) being disciplined.

Broh said with the impression gotten in the mask production, she is ready to tell the President to produce five million so that every citizen will be able to have a spare mask instead of just one.

“We are here to serve Liberia, and we are ready to make sure that every citizen wears the mask and has a spare one. And, for that, we will tell the President to produce 5 million to get every citizen have access,” said Madam Broh.

Now that the SoE is lifted, giving people the freedom to recommence their normal activities, Madam Broh cautions Liberians and residents to be very careful to stay home with their families and avoid congregating at beaches and nightclubs.

Education Minister Ansu Sonii, who has had his experience of the virus, also said he was dealing with stubborn children and adults in the school system, and that the Ministry of Education will need more than 50,000 of the masks to ensure that the more than 200,000 students across the country will get at least one each.

He said as the 12th graders are in school now preparing for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), while it is expected that grades 6, 7, 8, and 9 follow shortly and then 10 and 11, after which the semester will end to commence the next academic year in November this year.

Presley S. Tenwah, who represented the business community and the Tailor Union, expressed gratitude to President George Weah and the IMS for entrusting them with the responsibility to produce the masks.  He assured that every cent provided will be accounted for.  According to him, there are others producing some of the masks in other counties, besides Monrovia, where the first set of 330,000 were presented on July 22, 2020.

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