In line with measures to combat the deadly Ebola virus in the country, the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Christina Tah, has with immediate effect authorized the Liberia National Police (LNP), headed, by Police Director, Col. Clarence C. Massaquoi, to arrest anyone found with bush meat.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, July 30, at the Ministry of Justice in Sinkor, the Justice Minister said the police were enforcing the bush meat ban because it has been suspected that bush animals are carriers of the deadly Ebola virus.
“The police will confiscate any bush meat to ensure that the Ebola virus is curtailed,” Minister Tah said.
The Justice Minister also called on the media to help support the government’s awareness and sensitization campaign to combat the virus. The government cannot solve all of the problems for its people, the Justice Minister said, and called on the media to play a responsible role in combating the disease.
“We will arrest anyone who will give wrong Ebola information to the public, as the media is a powerful medium that is to be used to propagate the right messages about the virus that is killing our people, including doctors and other health workers,” she declared.
She reminded the public that the Ebola problem remains a national emergency, but that the government is doing all it can to fight the epidemic.
Law enforcement officials have also been mandated to closely monitor and regulate the transportation sector. The Ebola virus can be contracted by contact with a carrier's bodily fluids, to include sweat. Cllr. Tah stated, therefore, that commercial drivers will not be allowed to over-crowd their vehicles, promising to enforce traffic laws to this effect through the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The government is also making sure that all borders have Ebola testing equipment in order to get people tested before leaving and entering the country, Minister Tah asserted.
“We want to call on the general public to comply with the health workers, who will be carrying on the testing at the various borders. If anyone is found in misconduct, that person will be arrested and forwarded to the police for further questioning.”
At the conference, the Deputy Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, finally admitted that due to increase in Ebola cases among health workers, including deaths, some hospitals were closing their facilities. Health Ministry officials had previously maintained that health facilities were not closing, but that people had simply stopped going to hospitals out of fear.
“The Phebe and C. B. Dunbar Maternity Hospitals have closed down due to the absence of health workers and Ebola protective equipment for health practitioners. This is due to the deaths of 28 health workers, including doctors who lost their lives since the outbreak of the virus.”
Mr. Nyenswah urged the public to do its part and observe strict sanitation measures such as hand-washing, submitting to medical testing and adhering to other Ebola measures to ensure that they do not contract and spread the epidemic.
He said hand gloves must be reserved for health workers and practitioners.
Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Isaac Jackson, warned those misinforming the public about Ebola to desist, as the Government will not relent in arresting perpetrators.
The Deputy Minister said it was unfortunate that a pastor would use the media to propagate misleading information, describing Ebola as a curse and stating that he (pastor) could bathe with an Ebola patient and not contract it.
The conference brought together officials of government from the security and law enforcement sectors, including the Commissioner of Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), Cllr. Lemuel Reeves; Police Director, Col. Clarence C. Massaquoi; and Deputy Police Director for Operations, Col. Abraham Kromah, as well as Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo.