Combating the COVID-19 Resurgence
UNTIL THE UNFORTUNATE news was broken that there is a new wave of the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic, Liberia had had an appreciable method put in place to contain the spread of the disease. The country was among the countries that had the lowest incidents on the continent and in that process got commended for achieving such a feat despite the many challenges the country was going through.
BUT THE RECENT announcement from the government that there has been an upsurge of an unprecedented spike in a new COVID 19 cases in the country presented a very disturbing picture that should demand the immediate attention of the Government, the international development partners, other stakeholders, citizens and residents in the country.
IN FAIRNESS TO the government, it has given a clear graphic account of how bad the situation has become ranging from reporting on the previous figure to the present status, the number of persons currently in hospitals, deaths reported and how the situation has significantly overwhelmed the available facilities in the country.
FOR INSTANCE WHILE addressing the nation recently about the new wave of the disease, President George Manneh Weah said that the Minister of Health updated the government that previously, Liberia had confirmed 2,862 cases of the Covid 19 virus, with 95 confirmed deaths and 12 suspected. He however said there was a peak of 256 cases, hospitals were full with people experiencing breathing difficulties, 50 patients in treatment units, 33 of whom are severely ill and only 67,437 persons have taken one dose of the vaccine in the country.
THIS DESCRIPTION OF the situation from the government though scary and discouraging but it speaks volume on how far it intends to handle the situation for the benefit of its citizens and residents in the country. It shows that it does not want to politicize it because in the crude way we do politics in this country, a government tries to keep itself from the backlash of condemnation by lying to its citizens that all is well.
IT IS IN light of this that we want to commend the government for accepting to work with any Liberian from every spectrum of the divide so as to combat this national menace. Specifically we want to mention about the gesture from Mr. President towards Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) who has expressed his willingness to put the nation first and work with the government in any possible way to confront the disease head on.
WE CALL ON Mr. Cummings and other political leaders in this country to spare the nation any round of distraction and save the country. There is no measure of patriotism more than standing up for your country in times of national crisis like the situation we found ourselves in. The nation is highly challenged by the pandemic and it is obvious that the government alone cannot pull out the magic. The collaborative efforts of all, especially for some of the citizens that have those clouts out there that can make meaningful contributions to the nation and its people at this time.
WE ALSO WELCOME some of the measures taken so far by the government such as the limits in the operations of bars, night clubs, pubs, entertainment and event centers, restaurants and other recreational venues, social distancing, washing of hands and wearing of masks. Others are restrictions placed on some foreign nationals from travelling in the country and vigorous testing and checks at the major points of entry in the country.
FLATTENING THE CORONAVIRUS curve requires that the authorities assume full responsibility of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement, to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions.
IT IS WORRISOME that the third wave of COVID-19 is featuring reports of emergence of new strains of the virus, now said to be mutating. The Government and citizens should remain red alert to ensure that collective effort at minimizing the effects and curtailing the transmission yield positive results. The government should up the ante in testing; and should continue to invest robustly in healthcare facilities, while health workers should adhere to universal precautions while delivering services.
WHILE NOTING THAT countries have begun to issue travel bans in varying degrees, which may also be an option for Liberia in reducing vulnerability from COVID-19, the Liberian Government should give priority to Port Health Services and ensure that all arriving international passengers are tested for the virus. In view of the hardship experienced by the public during the first and second waves, it will be inadvisable to impose another total lockdown on the populace; but that should not stop the government from strategizing on how to strike a balance between managing the economy and imposing a second lockdown.
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD be more aggressive in their civic education and media sensitization campaigns on public health advisory to encourage personal hygiene, including wearing of face masks; hand washing regularly with soap and running water; practicing physical distancing; avoiding crowded places; and staying away from offices, markets, places of worship and social gathering, particularly, if sick.
INDIVIDUALLY, LIBERIANS MUST come to terms with the fact that these are unusual times, and until an acceptable vaccine is available, they need to be on guard in order to de-escalate the spike and flatten the curve. Everyone has a civic duty not to dump, but adhere to the COVID-19 prevention protocol. A moment of negligence may prove to just be too costly!