‘Schools Remain Open, but Government Not Ruling Out Lock Down’ – Health Minister Dr. Wilhemina Jallah Asserts In New COVID-19 Measures
Monrovia – Liberia’s Health Minister Dr. Wilhemina Jallah as announced that despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, schools and other public areas will remain open, but with a caveat to observe all existing health protocols.
Announcing a set of revised COVID-19 guidelines in a live broadcast on Wednesday, Dr. Jallah reiterated the government’s call to observe existing COVID-19 measures that were put in place during the early days of the outbreak of the pandemic.
These measures have since been ignored by government ministries and agencies and the public over the past months.
But in the announcement, Dr. Jallah warned: “The government may be compelled to impose a lockdown and or curfew if these guidelines are not fully observed,” and invoked section 14.6 of the Public Health Law of Liberia by imposing a fine not exceeding US$200 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.
Ban on People from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
As part of the new measures, the government has placed a ban on passengers traveling to Liberia from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh within the last 14 days.
These Asian countries with huge population in Liberia have seen the surge of COVID-19 cases in recent months.
Health authorities have confirmed the increase in cases in recent days and rapid spread into the communities, leading to deaths and severe infections.
President George Weah, in a hasty address to the nation late Thursday, called on all within the borders of Liberia to follow the safety rules, and stated that he has instructed the Ministries of Health and Justice to announce and enforcew the new measures.
In the guidelines, Dr. Jallah called for the mandatory wearing of mask at all time in public places, ensure social distancing of a minimum of three feet from each other and hand washing with soap or sanitizer.
She called on all public offices to reduce their staff by 50 percent.
She said: “All institutions of learning and places of worship shall remain open but shall strictly follow the health protocols listed in count two above (mandatory wearing of mask, social distancing and hand washing with soap or sanitizer).”
As part of the new measures, she also announced that all persons tested positive for Covid-19 and their contacts shall comply with health authorities and related health rules such as keeping phone lines open, self-quarantine, submission to quarantine or observation measures, and adherence to medical advice.
Large gathering of more than 20 persons including parties, weddings, vigil/wakes, funeral are disallowed; and gathering involving up to 20 persons are permitted provided the attendees follow the mandatory mask wearing, social distances, among others. Sporting events are allowed but only in empty stadium, she said.
Restaurants, cook shops, barbershops, lodges and beauty salons shall remain open provided persons and staff attendance follow the protocols as well; while banks shall only allow 10 people at a time in the service areas and those outside should observe the measures.
Supermarkets and large stores should allow 20 persons at a time, night clubs and bars are mandated to close by 9pm, observing 20-person restriction as well.
On public transports, the guidelines call for taxi to carry no more than three passengers in the back and one at the front, tricycle (kehkeh) shall take only two persons at the back and non at the front, while motorbike is allowed to carry one person at a time with everyone observing the safety measures.
The government also banned transportation of dead bodies of confirmed COVID-19 persons in and out of Liberia.