Last week’s announcement of a new Ebola outbreak in the neighboring Republic of Guinea has been subsequently denied by Guinean authorities, but that is absolutely no reason for Liberia to take the matter lightly.
Our Nimba correspondent Ishmael Menkor reported Monday that following the announcement of the renewed outbreak, the border with Guinea was immediately closed, leaving many Liberian traders in Guinea stranded, while truckloads of goods bound for Guinea were stuck on the Liberian side.
However, following the announcement by Guinea that it had no cases of Ebola but that people who recently died had drunk water poisoned by lizards, the border was reopened. Reporter Menkor, however, expressed alarm that no Ebola preventive measures were in place, leaving people from both sides crossing the border freely, without adherence to the Ministry of Health stipulated handwashing and other protocols.
We do not understand why our Health officials would ignore a serious warning about the renewed outbreak of Ebola in Guinea and not quickly reinforce preventive measures at the border regardless of Guinea’s denial.
We all vividly recall the devastating blow Ebola dealt Liberia two years ago, starting with one woman, who crossed the Guinea border into Liberia at Foya, Lofa County, and traveled all the way to the Firestone Rubber Plantation in Margibi County. That sparked the rapid spread of the virus, causing Liberia quickly to become the worst hit country in the Mano River basin.
Who can so soon forget this grim and tragic history of the deadly foreign enemy that caused havoc in Liberia, sending our economy into a tailspin, driving away investors, ravishing our development process and worst of all wiping out 4,000 lives?
With these grievous and tragic reminders of recent history still fresh in our minds, no one should take for granted the announcement of a recurrence of Ebola across our border, however unproven it might be. The sting of Ebola is so deadly, disruptive and destructive that we can never again take it for granted.
The Ministry of Health should not be seen to be dozing at our borders. For the foreseeable future it must remain on high alert and keep its rapid and sustained response mechanisms in readiness, first by deploying to all border points with Guinea emergency health teams, with all the preventive measures in place, including handwashing buckets, thermometers and everything else to make each crossing point safe. The aim here is prevention, prevention, prevention, taking NO chances!
Late last night, surprisingly, the World Health Organization declared Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone Ebola free and that the world should treat them as such. This is very good news. However, given the announcement three days ago of the resurgence of the virus in Guinea, we think that our suggestion of the reinstitution of the protocols at the borders should remain in place at least for the next three weeks to satisfy ourselves that we on the Liberian side have done our part to safeguard our citizens and country from any negative eventuality.