Confirmed coronavirus cases in Liberia have jumped to over 140 as of Sunday night, 26 April and caused a total 16 deaths, but the energy and commitment that law enforcement officials exhibited in the early stages of enforcing lockdown measures to quell the spread of the disease have now glaringly varnished.
Citizens and residents who are not issued a special access pass that identifies essential workers or business people are now seen in the streets walking or riding in commercial vehicles or on motorbikes even after the 3pm ban against movement of people instituted as part of the lockdown measures.
Despite the country commencing another batch of 14 days of lockdown over the weekend as President George Manneh Weah on Friday, 24 April extended the measure, a heavy traffic was observed from Central Monrovia through Bushrod Island toward the Somalia Drive route from the morning hours up to the afternoon.
Others remained in traffic even beyond the 3pm ban on Monday, 27 April as they apparently drove home, unlike the beginning of the first 14 days of the lockdown which started on Saturday, 11 April when the streets were clear by 3pm.
Market places have been overcrowded again and traffic is jammed as before the outbreak, all of which could raise fear of the possibility of Covid – 19 infected persons spreading the disease to others during the rush for essential needs and transport.
A ruling party lawmaker, Rep. Acarus Gray told local broadcaster OK FM Monday evening that he thinks the security forces are not just [sitting] because they do not want to enforce the measures, but they faced a challenge of negative PR (public relations) against them.
His argument is in apparent reaction to public criticisms against the joint security officers’ initial brutality carried out in the first few days of their enforcement of the lockdown measures, during which they beat and forced people to stay indoors.Gray admits however that people are now taking advantage of the situation, saying even non – essential workers are going to government institutions.
Some of those that were seen in central Monrovia on Monday wore face masks while others did not, in violation of the measures.In extending the lockdown over the weekend, President Weah said on the advice of health authorities and in light of the unresolved crisis, the government is extending the stay-at-home order to all 15 counties in the country.
Also, he said healthcare workers and other service providers are mandated to also wear hygienic gloves in addition to the facemasks when interacting with the public.
He warned that any non-compliance to these measures, as have been observed in the past, could lead to arrest by the security forces as the government will work to ensure facemasks are made available for public use.
According to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL’s) update released late Sunday evening, nine new cases were recorded, out of which seven were reported from Montserrado and two from Margibi.NPHIL reported four new deaths of which three are from Montserrado and one from Margibi as of 10:00 pm Sunday, 26 April.
It brings Liberia’s total confirmed coronavirus cases to 133 since the outbreak here, out of which there are total active cases of 92, total 25 recovered cases and 16 total deaths.
NPHIL says in the update that a total 676 contacts are under follow up.
Among the fatalities caused by coronavirus is Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) boss Col. Marcus Soko, and the virus has further infected some senior police officials and placed some police and other national security officials at high risk as a result of their reported participation in joint security meetings held to combat the disease.
By Winston W. Parley