The Government of Liberia announced closure of schools for one week after President George Manneh Weah confirmed Liberia’s first case of the Coronavirus Monday. He is the executive director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nathaniel Blama, currently quarantined at the Redemption Hospital. Health authorities subsequently tested Mr. Blama’s domestic worker, Johnny Phillips, similarly quarantined.
The government, thru the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia has in place series of preventive and public safety measures, including regular hands washing, decongesting public transport, and sending home non-essential staff from public offices, among others.
But we wonder after the one-week closure of schools here, what other steps or options does the Ministry of Education has to ensure students’ safety as they look forward to returning to classes next week. This is a serious concern. It should claim immediate attention of both school authorities and the ministry.
Some Churches in the country have similarly suspended public worship for one to two weeks. While these initial responses are welcomed, they could become short-live. What other steps are we considering as a people to keep safe amid the Covid-19?
Social distancing is easily applicable among adults, but not with children. Whether in homes, in schools or in communities, children have an instant to assemble and play regardless of potential health risks, particularly if left unguarded.
Truth of the matter is government has very limited options in regulating families at home except the public measures. This means Liberians should be the first security for themselves. They must adhere to all public safety measures announced.
Notwithstanding, we think government should go a step further in not just decongesting public transport and offices, but entertainment centers such as video clubs, drinking spots, and restaurants, among others where people converge to socialize.
Going back to the question of schools, we think government should provide thermometers or temperature testing tools to school authorities and deploy health teams on school campuses if classes would resume next week.
Much needs to be done in terms of logistics to curtail infections in the public, and remain on top of the Coronavirus. It is not enough to just provide regular update on the situation, but pro-active measures are needed.
As the one-week closure of schools elapses, we think government should consider some of these pro-active steps in keeping both students and the public at large safe and healthy.