A Time for Seriousness as Ebola Returns

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The government of Liberia, through its Health Ministry (MOH) and Incident Management System (IMS), has been proactive and forthright ever since Saturday, May 9, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia free of Ebola transmissions.

The MOH and IMS have constantly reminded and pleaded with the people of Liberia to continue observing all the preventive measures put into place to keep Ebola at bay. Many people have heeded the advice but some have not. There are too many people who have insisted on still shaking hands, touching and failing to observe the other mechanisms, even simple hand washing.

It is only by God’s grace that we have so far been unaffected by the continuing outbreak of the virus in the two neighboring countries. Given the porous borders between our three countries, it is only by His grace that there has been no spilling over into Liberia, despite the fact that we have kept our side of the borders open. We think this is a good thing Liberia has done—keeping our borders open. Tomorrow our neighbors and the world will remember that we did not turn our backs on Guinea and Sierra Leone when we became Ebola transmission-free. We are sure they are already grateful for that.

Now we must do two things more to help our brothers and sisters in Guinea and Sierra Leone. First, we must keep our promise, made by the President on May 9, by responding concretely to the challenge she announced—to help Guinea and Sierra Leone to drive out the virus. This newspaper has outlined a number of measures to this effect, and we are sure the Ellen government has its own.

Secondly, let us in this country keep ourselves safe from the virus. Let there be no more infection spread. By effectively containing the virus and keeping ourselves and our people absolutely safe, we would be radiating (giving out, spreading out) hope. Our neighbors will be even more encouraged to do everything they can to drive out the virus. They will say, “Liberia has done it and is doing it and so can we.”

We applaud Assistant Minister Nyeswah and the Incident Management System (IMS) for three things they have done in this latest reappearance of the virus. First, they have honestly and openly admitted it, rather than covering it up. Second, they have moved in quickly to test the victim before burying the body, and thirdly, the IMS immediately reactivated the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in the area.

The IMS’ honesty in immediately admitting the resurgence is in keeping with its own advice made over many months to the Liberian people to report at once anyone suspected of sickness of any kind so that the person may be immediately tested to prevent a possible spread of the virus. WHO, we are sure, is saddened by the announcement but at the same time has great appreciation and respect for Liberia and its health authorities for their openness and honesty. Remember, honesty is the best policy.

We suggest that the IMS should maintain other strategically placed ETUs to respond quickly to any other emergency or suspicion of one.

Finally, we appeal to all our people, all our homes, all our businesses, all our places of worship and work, to keep the chlorinated water flowing for constant hand washing. We should also observe all of the other preventive measures, including avoiding touching, until the virus disappears again, this time for good!

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