AFL Commences Regional, Community Isolations

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The Liberian government, through the Armed Forces of Liberia, has begun to isolate regions and communities that may be considered as sites that are severely hit by the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

The soldiers have set up a blockades stopping people from entering or leaving some regions, counties and communities affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Addressing the nation late Wednesday night on the state-owned Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) when she declared a 90-day state of emergency,  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said under the state of emergency, the government will institute extraordinary measures including, if need be, the suspension of certain rights and privileges as mandated by the Constitution. These extraordinary measures, it is believed, have to do with free movement and assembly.

AFL personnel on Wednesday, August 6, began setting up blockades stopping people from the Western region that includes Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu counties, from entering Montserrado, including Monrovia. Similar measures are also being taken in Lofa County where the Ebola virus first hit when it crossed over from Guinea.

It is also reported that government will today begin isolating communities in Monrovia and its environs.

The military blockade is stopping people from the western region, where Ebola is prevalent.

Counties in this region largely rely on Monrovia for their goods.

These measures by the government are in compliance with an agreement reached at a MRU Summit in Conakry, Guinea last week.  The MRU leaders, Presidents Sirleaf, Alpha Condé of Guinea, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Ivorian Health Minister, Dr. Raymonde Goudou Koffie, representing President Alhassan Ouattara, signed a Joint Declaration.  The first three MRU countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are affected by the virus.

The MRU Summit, among other things, agreed to impose a cross-border isolation zone at the epicenter of the outbreak at the regional and intra country levels, considered the world’s worst-ever outbreak of the disease.

This move, according to the leaders, is aimed at eradicating the deadly disease that has already claimed the lives of over 900 persons. In Liberia, there are over 500 cases reported with 271 fatalities.

On Wednesday, residents of Tubmanburg were alarmed over the presence of several personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who were being transported in the city in truckloads.  This was prior to declaration of the State of Emergency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In Lofa, according to county sources, the Ministry of National Defense Thursday deployed armed personnel of the AFL. The AFL troops are stationed in Voinjama, where the Telewoyan Hospital is located and Foya Districts, respectively.
Reports from Foya Care Center also say that out of over 30 persons that were admitted from Barkedu, the seat of Quadu Gboni District, since the outbreak, 9 have died and the others are responding to treatment.

Thursday, according to health workers, six persons were transported from Quadu Gboni (4 from Barkedu Town and 2 from Wormanor Town) to the Foya Care Center.

Barkedu town, which is the biggest town in Quadu Gboni District and the center of the outbreak in Quadu Gboni District, is located an hour’s drive from Voinjama City.  And it is predominantly inhabited by Muslims from the Mandingo tribe. There are calls from many citizens of the county that Barkedu Town, which is known as one of the epicenters of the Ebola virus outbreak, should be quarantined.   

President Sirleaf, when declaring the State of Emergency, said the virus threat continues to grow as a result of ignorance, poverty as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices, which continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease, especially in the counties.

Some stakeholders in the health sector have accused government of not being proactive enough in handling the situation, declaring the State of Emergency at a time when several Liberians have already been victimized by the virus.

Many have said that while the State of Emergency is necessary, people should have been given ample time to prepare. Residents of Tubmanburg had begun to complain of the shortage of rice, the national staple, and other commodities.

Meanwhile it is reported that Sierra Leone is ahead of Liberia in implementing the MRU agreement. In Sierra Leone the security forces have now imposed a complete blockade of the eastern region that has been hit by Ebola.

The head of the police in the east of the country said police and soldiers had imposed a "complete blockade" of the Kenema and Kailahun districts.

No vehicles or persons are being allowed in or out of the districts, except those bringing in essential foods and medicines.

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