The World Bank has committed US$15 million to help the Government of Liberia to fight the COVID-19 pandemic that has surfaced in the country.
Making the disclosure on March 19 at a press conference in Monrovia, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, said the Bank has currently made available US$1.5 million to help the government to start the fight against the coronavirus while they are working on making available in total US$6 million that is expected to be in the country within six days.
According to Minister Tweah, US$7.5 million will come through the World Bank for the emergency response commitment. “Therefore, you can say the World Bank is bringing in $15 million for the fight against the virus.”
He said US$6 million will come from the World Bank based on what he referred to as ‘contingency’ in the coming days.
The Minister also disclosed that the International monetary fund has made available US$50 billion globally for countries, and therefore the government is making every effort by speaking to relevant authorities to make a request because the virus will have a trickle-down effect on the economy.
For the Liberian Government itself, he noted that while it (government) remains grateful to international partners for all of the support, the government is also making available US$500,000, stressing that the government is ensuring to hold every stakeholder accountable for every cent spent to avoid the Ebola scenario.
It may be recalled that serious concern was raised after the Ebola crisis as to how the millions of dollars that came in were used as there is no accountability up to present.
At the press conference yesterday, Dr. Peter Graaff, World Health Organization Country Representative, called on Liberians to collectively fight the COVID-19 as it was done during the EBOLA outbreak in 2014. Many representatives of the International Community, including former United States Ambassador to Liberia, Debora R. Malac, praised ordinary Liberians for being resilient and cooperative in fighting the Ebola virus despite frustration encountered with the government in terms of slow response which resulted to the death of many.
Dr. Graaff said COVID-19 is a new virus that the world is fighting, without a special treatment.
Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Acting Director General of the National Public health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), also told the media that they have been able to locate 21 high-risk contacts and tested 17 persons on Wednesday, March 18. Of those tested, he said, 16 were negative.
Dr. Fallah said even though they were tested negative, they are still being interviewed and their tests will be repeated to ensure accuracy.
He said in order to protect the public, they have decided to secure an environment at the 14-Military Hospital that is ideal enough to quarantine and treat people who have the coronavirus.
Dr. Fallah said the government is using closed-circuit television surveillance to trace other contacts and, with the help of community members, they have gotten some of them and taken their specimen for testing.
“We will continue to expand as we have the second contact. We are now trying to get more and more contacts; thanks to the community and the media,” he said.
According to Dr. Fallah, they were encountering breaches in protocols at the Roberts International Airport, but with the intervention of President George M.Weah, a system has been set up to ensure that the health protocols are respected and observed.
“We are going to intensify our observation system at the airport to ensure that five persons disembark one at a time on every plane that lands in the country,” Dr. Fallah said.