MONROVIA – Last Thursday, while still in Paris, France, President George Weah suspended the Deputy Commissioner General for Operations at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Abigail N. Wisseh. Detailed surrounding her suspension was very limited, but a FrontPageAfrica investigation has found that Ms. Wisseh’s assisted several covid-19 positive foreigners into the country via the Roberts International Airport.
Executive Mansion and LIS sources informed FrontPageAfrica that Ms. Wisseh breached a temporary moratorium placed on the approval of visa on arrival, unless approved by the Commissioner. This internal regulation, FrontPageAfrica gathered, is intended to curb the Covid-19 transmission by monitoring those entering into the country.
“There was a moratorium placed on the signing of visa but she breached that moratorium placed on visa by the Commissioner. She signed visa for some Turkish who came into the country. Now, it was later discovered that three of them were covid-19 positive,” an Executive Mansion Source said.
FrontPageAfrica’s investigation further discovered that Ms. Wisseh in breach of the moratorium approved visas for several Turkish who came into the country recently to work for Bea Mountain. Subsequently, it was discovered that three of them were positive to the virus which is now raging in Liberia.
A Bea Mountain internal memo seen by FrontPageAfrica indicate at least 25 percent of its staff are now confirmed positive to Covid-19. The western region Turkish mining company is now beefing up safety and precautionary measures among its staff.
The memo reads: “Dear all BMMC employees, the 4th [3rd] wave of the Covid-19 outbreak has peaked in Liberia, where we carry out our operations. Before, the measures to be taken by our occupational health and safety department and clinical doctor have been announced several times. With these measures, the spread of covid-19 has been prevented or slowed down in our field. In order to prevent re-infection, the following studies and rules must be followed strictly, and all our employees must comply with the relevant rules. Despite this, due to the lack of care and attention to the issue, the epidemic continues to spread among us rapidly and the number of positive cases continue to increase. The reason for this was determined as the failure to comply with the warnings and plans made at the beginning, the control mechanism not working, the personnel not applying personal protective measures and not warning each other.”
The memo added, “It is now a fact that 25% of each of our employees is diagnosed as positive.”
Breaches at RIA Raised Before
Last week, the political leader of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP) blasted at President George Manneh Weah-led administration for its alleged failure to hold accountable those in charge of Covid-19 testing at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) for their “criminal negligence” in executing their assigned tasks and responsibilities.
Dr. Cassell maintained that the “crucial and decisive action” that appears to be missing on the part of President Weah is his alleged failure to hold the COVID-19 testing company stationed at the Robert’s International Airport accountable for engaging in practices that are characteristic of criminal negligence”.
He emphasized that these alleged acts have resulted not only to increased incidents and death rates, but it has overwhelmed the country’s poor and very limited healthcare system or infrastructure.
“To protect the public from further reoccurrence, this act of gross criminal negligence on the part of the management of the COVID-19 testing company should be fully punishable of the law and replaced with a reputable and trustworthy company”.
Dr. Cassell claimed that some travellers, especially those coming into the country from “hot zones” of the pandemic, including India are allegedly offering bribe to enter into Liberia via the Roberts International Airport.
He added that this is unfortunate and disappointing for such an ugly scenario to be happening in Liberia as a country with poor healthcare infrastructures and many of its citizens who cannot afford the cost of food, let alone medical services, a public health crisis of this magnitude can quickly result to devastating medical complications and significant loss of lives.
“It is very unfortunate but yet so real that while we’ve made so much progress in containing the incident rate of COVID-19 over the past several months, which in large has been due to lessons on interventions (testing and contact tracing) learned from the past Ebola epidemic in Liberia; however, when those healthcare interventions and public health measures are compromised by greed on the part of COVID-19 testing company, as evidenced by reliable and credible sources, to where individuals traveling back from countries such as India that is considered “hot zone” are bribing their way out of undergoing testing for fear of a positive test result, it has consequently resulted to a catastrophic effect on the lives of the public as we’re witnessing today”.
New Infections on the Rise
On of July 1, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) announced 214 new confirmed cases in its daily update. Four new deaths were also reported on July 1. On June 30, NPHIL reported 211 new cases, while on June 9, there were 193 new cases. The previous day, June 28, 106 new cases were recorded by NPHIL.
Statistics seen by FrontPageAfrica reveal that of the 67 weeks of response (as of March 2020), this week accounts for the highest with 25 percent of deaths. Six hundred and eighty-nine (689) new cases were recorded between June 20-26.
As of June 26, 2021, the percentage changes for cases from April 2021 has increased by 119% and 1,382% for May and up to date in June. There were 47 cases in April 2021 that increased to 103 in May and has significantly increased to 1526 in June 2021.
From the statistics, comparing the current positivity peak with the increase of 28.5% in the third wave to the peaks in the previous two waves, the first two was 22.2% for week ending June 24, 2020 while the second wave was 11.5% for week ending November 14, 2020.
The data further also predicted that comparing the three waves, it will take up to 60-90 days to see appreciable progress bending the curve if the recommendations including the wearing of masks, hand washing, social distancing, vaccination, testing, case investigation, contact tracing and contact reporting are followed.
Liberia on the Red
Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised Liberia’s travel alert to level 4 indicating that the country is highly unsafe for inbound travelers. The CDC has admonished U.S. citizens not to travel to Liberia and if they should, they must be vaccinated before coming.
On its website, the CDC admonished U.S. citizens and other travelers to avoid making a trip to Liberia or get fully vaccinated before travel “because of the current situation in Liberia, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”