Liberia: Medical Laboratory Technology Group Seeks Intervention Over Seizure of Staff Phones by NSA Over Covid-19 Leaks
MONROVIA – Several phones belonging to lab technicians assigned at the laboratory of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) have been confiscated by agents of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Report by Obediah Johnson, [email protected]
The laboratory is located in Charlesville, Margibi County.
Though the actual reasons behind the seizure remain unknown, there are reports that the action was taken early this week following the release of coronavirus cases and information involving top government officials to the media.
Specimens of President George Manneh Weah and other top government officials, who came in contact with the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who had been diagnosed Covid-19 positive, were reportedly taken to the laboratory for testing.
The Liberian leader dispelled speculations that he is COVID-19 positive when he drove, visited, and distributed masks to some members of the Joint Security Task Force assigned at various checkpoints in Paynesville, Sinkor and other areas on Thursday, April 30.
“Why are these people doing this? Invasion of privacy and confidentiality? They illegally seized the phones which is unconstitutional as a fundamental right. This is wrong. How will these people’s safety be guaranteed?– A source
The seizure of the cellphones belonging to these lab technicians by NSA agents is said to be creating serious problem for them and their families.
According to a report, the technicians, who most often sleep on duty, are unable to communicate with their family members, loved ones and others as a result of the situation.
The lack of communication between them and other top-notched technicians and authorities continue to make their jobs more complicated.
Sources have hinted that the alleged move by the NSA amounts to the invasion of privacy and confidentiality as required in the medical field.
The possibility of the escalation of the risk associated with the assigned tasks and duties of those lab technicians who are assigned at the NPHIL laboratory testing and confirming specimens of Covid-19 suspects, remain huge.
These lab technicians are also reported to be working in fear as a result of the situation.
“Why are these people doing this? Invasion of privacy and confidentiality? They illegally seized the phones which is unconstitutional as a fundamental right. This is wrong. How will these people’s safety be guaranteed?” a source questioned.
“Intimidating health care workers or technicians at this time is uncalled for and it should not be encouraged if we are to combat against Covid-19 collectively. These technicians are now afraid and may not be working satisfactorily”.
At the same time, the Liberia Association of Medical Laboratory Technology has written the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, to intervene into the matter.
Since the communication was served several days ago, Dr. Jallah is yet to acknowledge the receipt, or intervene into the matter.
When contacted via telephone, the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Mr. Henrique Pearson, refused to reply to numerous text messages and calls on the report gathered by FrontPage Africa.