In continuation of Government’s efforts to combat the Ebola Viral Disease that has engulfed the country, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has launched the National Action Plan presented to the National Task Force on Ebola by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in partnership with the World Health Organization, though by no means exhaustive.
As an initial contribution to the National Action Plan, the Government of Liberia has provided US$5 million to begin the immediate implementation of the plan.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the statement when she addressed the Nation in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with additional measures aimed at containing the spread and caring for the afflicted with the goal of “No New Cases.”
Among the stringent measures, the Liberian leader announced that though she was expected to have attended the ensuing U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D. C., U.S.A. next week, the Vice President instead will lead the delegation that will include a few cabinet ministers whose presence are absolutely necessary.
She also announced that henceforth, Government travels will be seriously restricted and limited to only those that are determined to be absolutely necessary and critical.
The Liberian leader also directed that all non-essential staff, to be determined by the Minister or Head of Agency are to be placed on a 30-day compulsory leave and that Friday, August 1, is declared a non-working day and is to be used for the disinfection and chlorination of all public facilities.
“All borders that are to remain opened are to be directly supervised and controlled by the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization whose duties it shall be, working with the assigned health authorities, to ensure strict adherence to announced preventive measures including preliminary testing for fever,” President Sirleaf directed.
Other measures without exceptions are that “all schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the Ministry of Education.
“All markets at border areas including Foya, Bo Waterside, and Ganta are hereby ordered closed until further notice.
“As previously directed, video clubs and entertainment centers must have improved sanitation including facilities for the washing of hands prior to entering and exiting as well as to restrict opening hours, and the number of individuals permitted to enter those facilities,” she emphasized, adding that “all citizens are seriously advised to avoid public amusement and entertainment centers.”
The Liberian President warned that any increase in prices of sanitation commodities used in the fight against Ebola Viral Disease will be treated as an offense against the people of Liberia. As such, she has directed the Ministry of Commerce to enforce this order and that all such commodities including chlorine, soap, sanitizers, fliers and buckets are to be imported duty free.
She also indicated that several communities are being considered to be quarantined based upon recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other relevant authorities. “When these measures are instituted, only health care workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas. Food and other medical support will be provided to those communities and affected individuals,” the Liberian leader said.
“The Ministry of Health and relevant agencies are also to consider the cremation of all victims of the deadly Ebola virus. This measure is intended to avoid tampering with the dead and contaminating water sources,” she also directed.
She announced that the security forces, under the directive of the Ministers of Justice and National Defense, are again ordered to enforce all of these measures announced by the National Task Force on Ebola.
President Sirleaf reiterated that the Ebola Viral Disease has over-tasked the country’s public health facilities and capabilities as the nature of the virus and its rapid spread throughout Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, attacking, as it has, the way of life of the people of the Mano River Union Basin have posed national, regional and international threats to public health and safety of the gravest proportions. “This is unprecedented,” she emphasized, referring to the World Health Organization which has upgraded the outbreak to Grade 3 Emergency, the highest in its response category.
President Sirleaf acknowledged that this is not only a Liberia problem, and cannot be seen as a problem of the Mano River sub-region; but an international problem with which all must engage in the fight.
She expressed Government’s gratitude to the Medecins Sans Frontiers, and their partner, the Samaritan Purse who, at great personal risks, has continued to assist in the difficult fight against the epidemic. She also thanked the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health of the United States for the much needed technical support.
President Sirleaf again reminded Liberians that Ebola is real, it’s contagious and it kills. “All of us must all take extra measures announced by the Ministry of Health to keep ourselves safe. The government will do its part. But you must do yours,” she urged, adding, “Denying that the disease exists is not doing your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Hiding sick persons is not doing your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Ignoring the signs and not reporting it to the health care authorities are not the ways by which we keep ourselves safe,” she said.
She reminded all Liberians that the sooner all Liberians unite in fighting this disease, as I know she knows they can, where each of us will play our part, the sooner we will overcome this disease and return ourselves to how we have always lived.