We may have sounded to some like prophets of doom when we alarmed in a recent editorial that Liberia is seriously slipping into a dilemma, as the country embarks on easing some restrictions, for eventual resumption of normal activities amid a rapid increase of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Sorry. We are not doom sayers.
But the reality has set in. Less than a week after we made that alert, the country is returning to the status quo, as President George Manneh Weah has extended the State of Emergency by additional 30 days and reversed the 9:00pm lockdown to 6:00pm with strict mandate for the enforcement of all health protocols, including compulsory wearing of facemasks in public places at all times, constant hands wash and social distancing, among others.
As we felt then, and now, not much progress has been achieved that should inform the government it is time to ease restrictions and open up the economy. The authorities had announced resumption of normal flights at the Roberts international Airport as of June 22, 2020 but President Weah has deferred the schedule by one week, setting June 28th instead, as the new date for flights to resume at the airport.
The government says this is necessary to make sure proper measures are put in place to keep travelers and airport employees safe amid upsurge of the pandemic. Besides, President Weah has mandated the Minister of Health Dr. WilehlminaJallah to announce and make public details of other health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
We are baffle but not ruffle. In the first place, what really informed the President to have begun easing restrictions when statistics from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia or NPHIL, show clearly and consistently that cases are on the increase since the country’s index case was pronounced on March 16, 2020?
Something seems fundamentally wronged here. We suspect that the President is being misinformed about progress from the frontline in the ongoing Covid-19 fight and therefore, misled to taking actions or making pronouncements that he would have to go back on, as in the case instant.
Are health authorities being honest with the President on the health crisis or are they sweet talking in his ears for self-interest, while sweeping the real issues under the rug? Something smells fishy here.
Former Foreign Minister Augustine KpeheNgafuan, recently challenged the Government of Liberia, particularly, health authorities leading the fight against the COVID-19 to provide “Clear, measurable, and easy-to-understand” indicators on progress made in the fight, if there were any justifiable reasons to continue the lockdown.
Ngafuan: “Relying more on the advice of health authorities during a health crisis is the prudent thing to do. However, the Liberian people deserve more concrete and detailed indicators to justify the extension of a lockdown than a nebulous unresolved crisis.”
Indeed, this is the quandary we seem to find ourselves right now as a people: Forward never; backward to sickness, poverty, misery and death. Only we Liberians can liberate ourselves from this deadly pandemic by putting all hands on deck and strictly observing all health protocols to stay safe.