US Evacuates Its Citizens

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As COVID-19 fears Grip Monrovia amid fear of continued spread of virus

Liberians fear that the government through the Incident Management Team (IMT), as well as other relevant health authorities, are not providing the public with the real unfolding as it relates to the raging coronavirus disease that recently surfaced if an evacuation alert from the Embassy of the United States is anything to go by.

Liberia currently has three official confirmed cases of the COVID-19, as announced by the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, but the US Embassy in a communication posted on its website said it is evacuating from the country some US citizens who have been infected by the disease.

News of a chartered medical flight scheduled to take COVID-19 patients, not any of the confirmed ones in government intensive care, to the USA via the Roberts International Airport Wednesday spread yesterday like wildfire as many fear that the government is underreporting the confirmed cases of the virus.

A Health Alert posted on the US Embassy website disclosed that the COVID-19 patients will be in a medically approved, isolated part of the US chartered plane. After the embassy publication, Social media, especially Facebook immediately became inundated with many users expressing fear that there might be more cases in the country and that the government is hiding the information.

The three confirmed cases of the virus, include suspended Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nathaniel Blama, who became the country’s index case, Johnny Philips, a domestic worker of the first case and 63-year-old Lenda Russ, who is considered the source of nation’s first community transmission. Ms. Russ, being a citizen of the United States, did not get to travel on the chartered flight.

The US Embassy did not, in the Health Alert, give the exact number of patients as well as how and where they contracted the Coronavirus, but fears abound that these might be local cases. The alert did not also say whether the patients are US Embassy employees or US citizens.

Meanwhile, the chartered aircraft flew to Liberia from Burkina Faso, where two diplomats to that country including the U.S. Ambassador Andrew Robert Young and Italian Ambassador Andrea Romussi, have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Ambassador Young is believed to be a passenger on that flight.

The Embassy health alert, however, noted that the patients and other citizens will be flown to Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. The alert reads in part, “The Department of State and U.S. Embassy Monrovia have very limited availability for U.S. citizens on a chartered medical flight which will depart Roberts International Airport at approximately midnight and fly to Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C.

Priority consideration will be given to older adults, people with underlying health conditions (such as diabetes or heart and lung disease), as well as other adults in need of medical assistance.

“All passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the flight at a later date. A promissory note for approximately $1,300 must be signed before boarding. No cash or credit card payments will be accepted,” the Health Alert indicated.

It said those taking advantage of the flight will be responsible for any arrangements or costs (lodging, onward destination or local transportation, etc.) beyond their initial destination in the USA.

“Exact departure time and routing are subject to change. Luggage will be limited to two bags per person, 20 KG maximum,” it said.

The virus is currently raging in the US, which currently has a total of 83,098 cases with 886 deaths and 338 recoveries. Many of the US cases, according to reports, were imported by nationals who returned home.

The head of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Mosoka Fallah, confirmed that he contacted the embassy over this development, but was told that a plane would be coming from Burkina Faso to take people to the US and that there will be no patient on the plane from Burkina Faso. He said the government will speak to the issue very soon.

Liberians have since begun to weigh in on the news after it broke with some calling on the government to take the news very seriously. Mark Willie said on his Facebook page. “A communication from the US Embassy that it is evacuating scores of its citizens, some of whom are Coronavirus patients, is sending shock-waves through some of us because we are only aware of three confirmed cases of the virus and those are currently quarantined by the government I think our authorities have been under-reporting the cases.”

Willie wondered whether the government was aware of the cases that the US Embassy is talking about and if it did, why it did not alert the public about those. “Are we saying that it is only our people that we can bring to public ridicule but shy away when it involves big hands?” he asked.

For Mercy Kollie, the situation is more worrisome as it is a clear indication that there is more to what the public is seeing on the surface as regards the severity of the pandemic in the country.

“This situation is deeper than what we think. With this news coming out now through an alert hidden on an Embassy’s website, I can just imagine what is going on in our government. We need to be fair to our people with the information we are providing,” Ms. Kollie noted.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The Coronavirus is a life and death situation that the regime must definitely meet head on. But importantly, the regime must chewed gum and walk at the same time . Cause the next challenge to face the regime of George, is food shortage. Food exporting Countries are themselves have begun to start hoarding essential food commodities for their domestic use in terms of food security. Especially the Asian countries with over half of the world’s populations living in that region are moving in that direction. They are hoarding foods. Planning from the regime by now to consider a study of the nation’s food supply chain is needed. No time for that unproductive thinking, that when it comes to that, then the country will deal with it. Saying until then , the focus point right now is the Coronavirus. While food exporting countries are securing their domestic supplies. After the Coronavirus, food exporting countries cannot export food commodities that they do not have for the international markets. Some countries have already cancelled their existing contracts to export. It is time that the lawmakers request for administrative information on the nation’s food supply and security. Cause there will surely be the day after the Coronavirus.

  2. Liberia has the right to send plane around the world and evacuate its citizens from other places. They have the money for Snow to be singlehandedly flying around in private jet and being quarantined at his home when Cummings who travelled from Bahamas with no cases of Coronavirus through Ghana with less cases than Nigeria is at his home. Let God bless us in this country. I wish them well.

    We will see with global recession coming, I see where they will get the money to feed their corrupt habit. America is spending $2 trillion dollars with a big ‘T’ they will have nothing for World Bank and IMF. We will see and time will tell, so we should not panic, pray.

    • Your lovely president, GMW, just released a brand-new album to console COVID-19 patients and the dead. What a great artist! Wow! First of its kind in the world! Yeah, we have a good president, darn, the papay can sing yaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

      While other world leaders barely sleep these days thinking of how to keep their fellow citizens safe, ours is making music.

      God, please forgive us and keep us safe from this other pandemic!

  3. The evacuation of US citizens has always been what Uncle Sam does to protect its own who find themselves caught in either natural disasters or armed conflict. This is what is going on here. Not much should be read into this.

    The difference this time round is Americans returning home are coming to a country where covid 19 has become an out of control virulent viral confligration.

  4. Liberians of all political persuasions,

    Please, please, please let’s not politicize the issue of Covid-19. It’s very serious! It’s a killer and a destroyer of world economies. Liberia’s economy could suffer a terrible blow if Covid-19 hits badly as we see in other countries. Oh God forbid. The hope is it will not, but you never know. So as we “prepare” for the worse, let’s find ways in which we can put our resources together in order to help the Liberian people. Something like an international fund raiser through ULAA is not a horrific idea. Of course, I am aware of the fact that “money” is not good in the hands of a few Liberians. However, that shouldn’t stop us from being creative!

    The US rescues it’s Covid-19 employees:
    Well, that’s the right thing to do. Every country, including Liberia should be prepared to offer medical help to its citizens anywhere in the world when disaster strikes. That’s being responsible! There are some Liberians who wonder about how or where the American employees got infected with Covid-19. Let’s not kid ourselves. Covid-19 is in Liberia. So the government of Liberia has the responsibility to inform and educate the Liberian people about the dangers of Covid-19 nationwide……to the city dwellers as well as to the residents of all rural areas. Get the word out to the people. By radio announcements, billboard advertisement, person to person visits into the counties, etc.

    These are “harder times” for the Liberian people. The economy is not in a good shape. The arrival of Covid-19 is a conundrum. I hope and sincerely pray that the authorities will do their utmost best to help the Liberian people in a meaningful way without the involvement of politics. All of us should be prepared to help the motherland.

    Peace to all.

  5. Hney

    I wish this president or some of his advisers were reading these kinds of good words of advice from individuals like you and heeding to them, but however, I do not think they are. Or, if they did, then they’re only cherry-picking what they think is music in their ears. The situation is all politics as usual and in fact it has become more divisive since the senatorial races are scheduled to occur whenever the all-powerful president gives the signal.

    I am among those Liberians who have become very cynical, extremely pessimistic. and distrusting of their own government and for very good reasons too. He doublespeaks and so are his associates and confidantes. In other words, when he tells a person to head south, that person needs to head north if he or she doesn’t like to be deceived.

    This is sometimes misconstrued as I do hate Weah. On the other hand, no. I do not hate him as I have had no personal encounters with him. However, I am diametrically opposed to his policies because they have headed the country in the wrong direction.

    • “Right to be anonymous” you are a fool. To be masking yourself and afraid for others to know who you are when stating an opinion of national concern is not only cowardice but darn right stupid and foolish.

      I would never waste my valuable energy and time to read any of your childish postings.

  6. Comrade Right. to. be. Anonymous,
    You’re very enlightened. I am of the belief that you will understand what I share with you. You and I may have a difference of opinion on a particular issue, but the undeniable truth is that we yearn for a progressive Liberia, not a stagnated Liberia.

    At times, it looks as if Liberia is not moving forward. Since 1847, Liberia has had no reliable electricity, running water or good, good roads. It looks as if we’re stuck! We hear the words “developing country”, but are we really developing? So I agree with you totally my dear brother.

    The Corvid-19 factor that looms over our heads is scary. I am mentally unsettled about our country. I would like to see a genuine mobilization of government services for our people wherever they are in Liberia. If diaspora Liberians could quickly get together in order for money to be raised or for supplies to be purchased and sent to Liberia, I would support such a move. Just consider the US. As powerful as this country is, people are dying en mass and the economy is about to tank. What happens when Covid-19 hits with extreme vengeance in Liberia? If that happens, the richer countries will not come to aid us immediately. They will take care of their very own first. We need to act! I don’t know how effective ULAA is.

    In your state of Minnesota, I am sure the message has gotten out already. There are TV stations that broadcast 24/7. That’s not the case in Liberia. So comrade Right. to. be. Anonymous, I see your point. Most Liberians are frustrated. They have valid reasons to be. Our country is not developing as fast as it could be. I don’t know why we are referred to as a “developing country”.

    Peace

  7. Liberia is not really considered as a developing country. People use the term “developing country” to not frustrate us. We are an underdeveloped country, don’t make our leadership happy for nothing.

    Do Liberians really need money raised by the diaspora to send down to hand over to corrupt people where real beneficiaries will not benefit? I don’t think this is a good idea.

    I think first and foremost, the diaspora should use its leverage on the government to promote democracy through a fair justice system and an accountable and responsible administration.
    Secondly, the diaspora should come down with their expertise and high currency to set up companies in order to provide decent jobs for Liberians.
    Ghanaians, Nigerians, Ivorians, etc do that in their respective countries, but our diaspora come down to steal from the poor people and take the money back to the USA, its’ very wicked indeed! God will punish those who have done that!

    COVID-19 could have been contained and controlled in Liberia, like in Russia, if our disgruntled, pompous and uncouth government officials had not exhibited their imbecility.

    Allow me to take this time to salute our brave, devoted and professional medical team who are once more risking their lives on the frontline to keep our people safe.
    Also, to you our law enforcement officers, bravo! Keep up the good job but please, demand protective gear when enforcing the law at this critical time. Don’t be carriers of the COVID-19.

    No more COVID-19 patients in Liberia!

  8. There’re two different issues: The issue of now and the issue of 2023. You’re preoccupied with the issue of 2023. My preoccupation centers on the issue of “right now” because the whole world is on fire so to speak. Covid-19 poses a threat. If the wind blows too hard, the ugly demonic virus will hit hard at home. The operative word is ,”if”. I hope it doesn’t spread in Liberia. It’s there. Ours is an unsophisticated society. Let’s hope it is not secretly spreading. Please Jesus!

    My state is a snowy one. But before it snows, the snow removal crew prepare themselves like mighty men and women! The snow removal crew do not act on snow removal after it snows. We’ve got it backwards in Liberia! Example, when it rains in Liberia, the roads and bridges become untouched. Most marketers cannot travel upcountry in order to get consumable products. Usually, when that happens, inflation steps in or sometimes you can’t see your girlfriend? Am I right? Let’s prepare ourselves! There’s nothing wrong when a community of people make contingency plans!

    So whereas it’s important to keep our hopes alive with our eyes wide open for the future, I think “right now” is the time to deal with Covid-19 before it wreaks havoc. Obviously you’re opposed to my suggestion, but that doesn’t mean it is not a good suggestion.

    Hang in there buddy.

  9. Uncle Hney,

    Please tell your government to leave my boss, Alexander B. Cummings, alone. He is a responsible man and fully aware of the risks the disease pose to the world.

    He came from the Bahamas and decided to quarantine himself, but your people have sent their thugs on him to intimidate him by forcibly quarantining him in a public space. He is not any ordinary citizen. He must be quarantined at home, not in an opened and risky place where thugs would physically and morally intimidate him at will.
    Weah is looking for a very BIG fuss, tell him to stop! What he couldn’t do to his disgruntled officials, he should not do it to our responsible leader.

  10. Mon Frere Dolo,
    Calm down. Take a deep breath.

    Everyone who enters the country, whether he or she is next in line to become King of Jerusalem, must be tested. That’s the requirement. Everyone is obliged by law to be tested.

    Your point of contention is that Cummings is not an ordinary man, but rather a man of means. I understand. But be reminded that Alexander Cummings is not above the law. Liberians have got to learn how to become submissive, irrespective of their status.

    I am not there in Liberia, neither are you there to authenticate what form of harassment Cummings has encountered, if any. Let’s decipher the information carefully before we conclude. I hope the medical team was not kicking or shoving him into the automobile while demands were placed over his head to take the Coronavirus test.

    In conclusion, no one should be harassed, that includes Alexander Cummings. But at the same time, there shouldn’t be any special treatment. Just take the test and be done with it. It will complicate matters if everyone claims special treatment. I would like you to calm down. Everything will be okay.

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