Awareness Heightens On Ebola Prevention…GOL, Several Institutions Take Measures

By Morrison O.G. Sayon

In the wake of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, the Government of Liberia has taken several measures to contain the epidemic.   At the first meeting of the Presidential Task Force set up and Chaired by President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, government announced that all borders of Liberia will be closed with the exception of major entry points including the Roberts International Airport, James Spriggs Payne Airport, Foya Crossing, Bo Waterside Crossing and Ganta Crossing.

The Liberian Government has also announced that at these entry points, preventive and testing centers will be established, and stringent preventive measures to be announced will be scrupulously adhered to.

The Task Force has at the same time announced a new travel policy by the Liberia Airport Authority covering inspection and testing of all outgoing and incoming passengers will be strictly observed; that restrictions on public gatherings such as solidarity marches, demonstrations, promotional advertisements to be restricted.

Other measures include that hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers and video clubs are to play five-minute film on Ebola awareness and prevention; Government vehicles will be commandeered, as appropriate, to provide needed logistical support to the health delivery system.

All Government facilities and public places are to install and provide public access for washing of hands and other sanitization services; media sensitization programs to be formulated by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

At the same time, in the wake of the rapid spread of the deadly Ebola virus and the recent untimely death of Mr. Patrick Sawyer, Coordinator of the ECOWAS National Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, having contracted the virus, the Ministry wishes to announce the following measures to ensure public safety and instill confidence in users of services at the Ministry.

At the very highest level of the Ministry, all senior officials coming in direct or indirect contact with Mr. Sawyer have been placed on the prescribed 21 days observatory surveillance period starting July 20th, the day Mr. Sawyer departed the country for Nigeria.

All concerned senior officials have been requested to telecommute up until when certified by the Ministry of Health to return to active duty.

Further to this measure, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh has requested the Ministry of Health to immediately quarantine and properly sanitize both the former Ministry of Finance and the former Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs buildings including the newly constructed National Authorizing Office of the European Union.

Due to these measures, the Ministry will be temporarily shut down 12: 00 P.M. on Monday, July 28, 2014 and reopened on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

All employees who made no contact but have been traumatized as a result of the situation in the past few days and would like to take some time off are free to stay home until when it’s necessary to resume duty. However, all essential employees still working at the Ministry are asked to observe the following measures strictly:

Use of the elevator is restricted to only 4 persons per trip; absolutely, no clustering on the stairways; no gathering of more than five persons except for meetings in conference spaces or spatial environment; absolutely no handshakes, hugging of other physical bodily contact; report any suspicious illness or strange conditions amongst employees; only persons with genuine business dealings and transactions would be permitted on the premises; measures are all employees are further encouraged to wear long sleeve clothing to minimize any possible risk of exposure.

In addition to these measures, the Ministry has put in place a thorough sanitary program and admonishes all staff to use the hand washer or personalized sanitizers or disposable gloves available at the Ministry’s entrance.

“These measures take immediate effect as the MFDP treats this crisis seriously and will work to continue our support to ongoing national response effort. Consistent with the President’s message and pledge, the MFDP, with support from our other partners, is committed to providing the full range of support required to address this situation in coming days,” the release stated.

“Notwithstanding, the general public is advised to carry out their normal transactional businesses at the Ministry and follow closely the measures announced in the interest of public health,” the release added.

Meanwhile the MFPD tax policy unit says it will review, in conjunction with the Liberia Revenue Authority, a proposal for the relaxation of tariffs and duties on the importation of sanitary materials and other bleach products during the period of this situation.

Standing Orders have been given to the Security Forces, including the Armed Forces of Liberia, to give support to the Technical Team and the Task Force in enforcing these regulations.

Based on report from the Technical Team, according to the Task Force, communities that are seriously affected will be quarantined and travels in and out of such communities restricted. Support will be provided to those directly affected by the quarantine restrictions.

Among other things, the government said similar Task Force Structures are being established at the county level; citizens outreach teams are being established to support the works of the Technical Team and the Task Force.

Meanwhile, the Task Force has called on all institutions named in the President’s Independence Day Remarks including women and youth organizations, Inter-Religious Council, Traditional Council, Labor Union, Market Organizations, Political Parties, Press Union, the Transport Unions, and Motor Bikes Associations, to name a representative to participate on the Task Force.

The Task Force then appealed to the public to cooperate by refraining from harming or rejecting health workers and citizens’ representatives who are only trying to save lives and protect citizens.

Meanwhile, report from the General Services Agency says some employees of the entity have been advised to stay away for a period of one month for some preventive measures against the deadly Ebola virus.

The measures according to information are intended to put into place some preventive measures to protect employees against Ebola which is claiming lives in the country, a unanimous source told our reporter.