The schools are closed indefinitely; civil servants on a compulsory 30-day leave; communities ordered quarantined; and citizens are mandated to stay away from entertainment centers. In addition to all of these, the Liberian government has pledged US$5 million to fight the Ebola scourge; and the President has cancelled her trip to Washington, D.C. for President Obama’s African Summit.
These are not only sweeping but also extraordinary measures, compared to the actions the other nations affected by Ebola have so taken to fight this deadly disease. It was only on Friday that Sierra Leone declared a state of Emergency, several days after Liberia’s.
Announcing these drastic, stringent measures in her Address to the Nation last Wednesday evening, President Ellen Johnson said the Ebola virus is spreading rapidly through the country killing more and more people.
The strategy of the Anti-Ebola Task Force, which she chairs, she said, is “to care for the afflicted with the goal of “no new cases.”
But O the Liberian people! Despite all of these moves, the Liberian people are still acting foolishly, recklessly, irresponsibly and dangerously. Barely three days ago in Neezo, very near the densely populated Paynesville Red Light area, a woman, suspected of the Ebola virus, was rushed to the hospital and died in the taxi en route. Her accompanying relatives brought her back to the house in Neezo and hurriedly buried her. When health workers were alerted, they rushed to the home and asked for the body to be properly disposed of according to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare(MOH) regulations. But the family refused to surrender the body. The health workers left in disappointment, vowing not to return. That same night two other family members of the same household were found dead in separate rooms. When the Health workers failed to show up for the two bodies, the neighbors set up road blocks demanding the turn of the health workers to properly bury the bodies.
The same thing happened in another part of the country that very week when, following the Ebola deaths of several persons, an NGO ambulance went to retrieve the bodies and were not only turned back, but the ambulance was overturned and its windshield smashed.
In the wake of this terrible emergency throughout the country, the government is trying to play its role, but if the people do not cooperate, the epidemic will spread out of control and the lives of ALL the people will be in jeopardy.
Most unfortunately, though, the government has itself to blame for this crisis of confidence. Today’s lead story about the government’s total mishandling of Ebola bodies, including burying them in shallow graves and on the banks of rivers and streams used by thousands of Liberians for drinking, bathing and cooking water speaks volumes of the Liberian government’s ineptitude bordering on down right wickedness.
How does a government bury such dangerously infectious bodies on private property?
The President and her Ministers of Health and Social Welfare have some very serious questions to answer this morning.