Seated in an unlit Chamber, Senators of the 53rd Legislature Tuesday, April 1st, voted to work in collaboration with the House of Representatives to bid President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declare a State of Emergency and order Liberia’s borders with Guinea—and if necessary, those with Sierra Leone and La Côte d’Ivoire—closed.
That move, the Senators believe, will help health workers cut down the number of people moving in and out of the country and, axiomatically (obviously, goes without saying) reduce the incidence (frequency, rate) of carriers of the Ebola virus, entering through the country’s porous land borders.
According to the motion proffered by Maryland County Senator John Ballout, the leaderships of the two Houses will work with the Executive to encourage the President to declare state of emergency.
The Senators’ action was taken immediately after the Chairman on the Senate Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare, Women & Children Affairs, Dr.(MD) Peter Sonpon Coleman, had briefed the lawmakers on the status of the Ebola virus.
Senator Coleman, who supports the eventual closure of the borders as the last measure to contain the virus, disclosed that the latest report from the Du Side Hospital in Harbel, Firestone, where the only living carrier is hospitalized, said there was encouraging news that her condition was improving, and that she is no longer rejecting her food intake.
Quoting a report from Lofa County, Sen. Coleman said the Superintendent of that county has ordered a stop to residents going into Guinea, a decision many in that border town have accepted.
The briefing was greeted with mixed reactions, though all supported measures that would contain the virus.
For instance, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor warned that news about the Ebola virus is causing lots of panic in the communities; she suggested that the Senate act more decisively.
The Bong County senior Senator said some parents have begun taking their children out of school, fearing they might contract the virus.
Bomi County Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson, however, reiterated the call for the President to address the nation and thereafter declare a state of emergency; he said that the situation has gone beyond the Minister of Health and Social Welfare making mere daily briefings, and that it was time for decisive, national action.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Ministers of Health of ECOWAS are scheduled to attend a conference in Monrovia next week. It is believed that containing the Ebola virus will be high on their agenda.