Liberia: House of Representatives Adopts New Measures Amid Two Cases of Coronavirus in Liberia

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The House of Representatives has begun adopting new measures including halting large gathering at the Capitol Building by reducing the number of staff and journalists covering the House of Representatives, as well as barring visitations

Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives is adopting new measures after two persons have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus in Liberia.

The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), in a release on Tuesday, March 17 announced that Johnny Philips, a domestic worker in the home of Nathaniel Blama has been tested positive for the Coronavirus, bringing the number to two so far.

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, speaking in plenary on Tuesday said the measures will include putting a halt to large gathering at the Capitol Building by reducing the number of staff and journalists covering the House of Representatives, as well as barring visitation.

“We will look at our own environment to see how we can address the issues here. I think it will have to go to the flow of human traffic and the issue of staffers in our offices has to be considered,” Speaker Chambers said.

“Those persons that will be in our offices must be reduced to the extent that those that will stay must be able to carry on huge portion of the work, the traffic of journalists has to be reduced as well.”

The Chairman of House Committee on Health, Rep. Joseph Somwarbi (District #3, Nimba County) said, with the confirmation of registered cases of the COVID-19 in Liberia, the country has moved from the precautionary stage to containment stage, and as such, stringent measures should be put in place and observed to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

At the end of open Plenary on Tuesday, March 17, the Chairman of the Committee on Health, Rep. Joseph N. Somwarbi (District #3, Nimba County) at the request of the Speaker, briefed the House on the status of the fight against the Covid-19 in Liberia.

Rep. Somwarbi, in his briefing before session was abruptly shut down to the public, disclosed since the first confirmed case in Liberia, 124 contacts have been identified, and of the number, 27 have been reached for screening and testing.

Speaking further, he revealed that vigorous contact tracing is ongoing and called on his colleagues and the public to avoid large gatherings and non-essential travel as advised by the President.

With the confirmation of registered cases in Liberia, he said the country has moved from the precautionary stage to containment stage, and as such, stringent measures should be put in place and observed to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“The country has moved from precaution stage to containment stage.  The virus is within the country. We want you to be careful because it was stated that the virus will cover the whole world and it is now spreading all over,” he said.

Liberia has registered two cases so far. The Government through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) in a release said, of the tests conducted on five of the primary contacts of the first coronavirus case, four have tested negative, with only one positive. 

According to the release, those tested include the driver of the suspended Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boss, Nathaniel Blama and an official of the EPA who accompanied Blama to Switzerland, adding that the only contact whose result has come positive is Philips.

In spite of the negative tests, the release said the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has opted to keep all primary contacts under special quarantine observation and will re-administer another round of tests in seven days.

“NPHIL has expressed optimism that [Nathaniel] Blama and [Johnny] Philips who continue to be in stable condition will make full recovery,” MICAT said through the statement issued on Tuesday.

The release further said that health authorities continue to trace all primary and secondary contacts of the index cases in order to have them tested, while President George Weah has mandated NPHIL to create additional centers to cope with the need for more testing.

The release, signed by MICAT boss, Lenn Eugene Nagbe noted that the President has also instructed Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Foreign Affairs Minister Gbehzongar Findley to work closely with the Ministry of Health in order to bring in the country additional testing and treatment equipment.

“The government assures the public that the health team is working tirelessly to halt the spread of the disease in the country. The government again urges all to abide by the protocols and preventive measures aimed at keeping the public safe.” 

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