In the wake of the nationwide curfew imposed to curtail the deadly Ebola virus by the Government of Liberia, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lewis Z. Brown has warned journalists across Liberia to abide by the established curfew hours and avoid any problems with security personnel.
Speaking at the Information Ministry’s weekly press briefing on Thursday, August 21, Minister Brown said the curfew announced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf includes all journalists across the country.
“We have received calls and complaints from the media in a request that journalists be permitted go about on their normal professional activities during the curfew hours and the curfew is advised by the national security council and imposed by the office by the President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and so, we all must work along with those hours.”
The Information Minister said, there are four exemptions from the curfew — health workers across the country, concessionaires operating in their various localities, travelers going to the airport and returning to Monrovia, utility workers across the country (LEC, LWSC, etc.). What is not included is excluded, Brown said.
“The curfew by government is intended to help health workers with the best atmosphere to carry out their work and also be able to move in those communities and take away suspected cases, including bodies. The carriers of the deadly Ebola virus are our loved ones, partners and friends, and so we must take some actions and decisions that will help contain the virus,” Brown noted.
The government’s spokesman said, “All journalists across the country should follow my footsteps in getting home early to avoid any encounter with security people,” adding that there is no greater way to fight the virus and so, the government is using the necessary means to contain the virus among the people of Liberia.”
According to the Minister, the government has taken some actions to help contain the Ebola virus, including the quarantining of two communitites, (West Point and Dolo’s Town in Margibi County) and the deployment of some officers in other parts of the country.
He disclosed that the President has instructed the Commerce Ministry authorities to work with businesses within the quarantined areas to ensure a 50% reduction of basic commodities to help supply various homes as well as the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) for constant supply of water for people in the areas.
“We are working in collaboration with the General Services Agency to ensure that those who are selling rice in the West Point get their supply at a very low rate, because we cannot feed everyone in the area but will provide free rice to hospital and clinics in these areas,” Minister Brown added.
The media had been informed that the security apparatus was considering whether or not to add pressmen to the list of exemptions; but to date, according to the Information Ministry, journalists are still subject to the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.