Senior Finance Officials Under 21-Day Surveillance

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The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has now officially “joined” the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, which last week snatched away one of their senior colleagues, Mr. Patrick Sawyer.

Mr. Sawyer, who met his untimely death in Lagos, Nigeria, after he had gone there to attend an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conference, was the Coordinator of the ECOWAS National Unit at the MFDP.

Speaking with our Health Correspondent Sunday, July 27, the MFDP Media Services Director, Mr. Sidiki Trawally, stated that individually, the Ministry’s staff have been engaged in the preventive methods and “most of them have their personal sanitizer, which they use daily.”

Mr. Trawally said that in order to strengthen their involvement in the anti-Ebola campaign, the Ministry has put in place a thorough sanitary program and admonished all staff to use the hand washer or personalized sanitizers or disposable gloves available at the Ministry’s entrance.

The Ministry announced Monday that in order to instill confidence in users of services at the MFDP, “At the very highest level of the Ministry, all senior officials who came in direct or indirect contact with Mr. Sawyer have been placed on the prescribed 21-day observatory surveillance period starting July 20th, the day Mr. Sawyer departed the country for Nigeria.” 

The Ministry further said that all concerned senior officials have been requested to telecommute (work from home) until certified by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) to return to active duty.

In addition to the above measures, the Minister of FDP, Amara Konneh, has requested the Ministry of Health to immediately quarantine and properly sanitize both the former Ministry of Finance and the former Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs buildings, including the newly constructed National Authorizing Office of the European Union.

“Due to these measures, the Ministry [was] temporarily shut down 12 PM on Monday, July 28, and reopened on Tuesday, July 29.”

The Minister has also given permission to other employees, who made no contact with Mr. Sawyer, but have been traumatized as a result of the situation in the past few days and would like to take some time off, to stay home until they deem it necessary to return to duty.

Among other things, however, all essential employees still working at the Ministry have been asked to observe strictly the following measures: “Use of the elevator is restricted to only 4 persons per trip; absolutely, no clustering on the stairways; no gathering of more than five persons, except for meetings in conference spaces or spatial environment; absolutely no handshakes, hugging of other physical bodily contact; and please report any suspicious illness or strange conditions amongst employees.

The Ministry has also asked that only persons with genuine business dealings and transactions would be permitted on the premises and that all employees are further encouraged to wear long-sleeved clothing to minimize any possible risk of exposure.

“Notwithstanding, the general public is advised to carry out their normal transactional businesses at the Ministry and follow closely the measures announced in the interest of public health.

Meanwhile, the MFPD tax policy unit will review, in conjunction with the Liberia Revenue Authority, a proposal for the relaxation of tariffs and duties on the importation of sanitary materials and other bleach products during the period of this situation.” 

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