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Government of Liberia restricts funeral services

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As COVID-19 rages

Funeral services are being restricted at funeral homes as the Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Health issues an addendum to its recent Revised Covid-19 National Guidelines with immediate effect.

The move is part of an effort in tightening health protocol and COVID-19 preventive measures as the covid-19 rages.

This is in addition to the 20 persons attendance regulation already in place across the country.

The Health Ministry gives no detail on what necessitated this addendum in the face of already stringent measures announced, and raises concern that something might have happened at a home funeral or church funeral service.

Liberia’s Minister of Health, doctor Wilhemina S. Jallah, signed the addendum, dated June 29, 2021.

It is not clear how Liberians of the Muslim religion, who do not take their dead relatives to funeral homes, but in Mosques for funeral ritual before burial, would respond or comply with the addendum.

However, the additional restriction comes amid daily increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases of the Delta variant, one of the latest strains of the deadly virus.

As of 10:00 pm Monday, June 28, 2021 the Ministry of Health thru the Incident Management System, announced 106 new confirmed cases, four (4) new deaths and 41 new recoveries.

Monday’s statistics brings to total, 3,900 confirmed cases in Liberia, including 1,458 Active Confirmed Cases, 127 deaths, and 2,315 recoveries. 

Broken down, Montserrado County has the highest number of confirmed cases of 3,188 with 76 deaths followed by Margibi County, 165 confirmed cases with eight deaths; Nimba, 86 confirmed cases with 15 deaths; Bong 84 confirmed cases with eight deaths; and Lofa, 62 confirmed cases with 11 deaths, among others.               

Yesterday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked Liberia’s COVID-19 crisis to Level 4, indicating that the West African nation has Very High Level of COVID-19 at the moment.

Accordingly, the CDC issued a travel advisory, cautioning U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Liberia for now.

The advisory posted Monday, June 28, 2021 on the website of the Embassy of the United States near Monrovia says if a U.S. citizen must travel to Liberia, said traveler should get fully vaccinated before coming.

However, the CDC warns that because of the current situation in Liberia, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.

The Government of Liberia on Thursday, June 17, 2021 placed restriction on travelers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the last l4 days, country said to be highly infected with the Delta variant that is ravaging Liberia.

However, critics say the travel ban is belated, as travelers from these highly affected countries, particularly India that suffered over one million deaths from new variant of the virus entered Liberia between April and May this year in their numbers when Britain, France and other Western nations immediately imposed restriction. 

Health Minister Jallah re-emphasized compulsory wearing of masks in public, social distancing (3 feet) regular hands washing, and use of sanitizers, among other precautionary steps.

Schools and churches are allowed to remain open, but with strict adherence to the measures outline above, while public gatherings at wedding, party, night vigils/wakes and funerals are restricted 20 attendees with social distancing observed.

Banks are mandated to allow 10 customers at a time in the services areas, while customers waiting outside in queue stand three feet apart.

Public transport, particularly taxis are required to carry three passengers in the back seat with one in the front seat to any destination, while tricycles carry two passengers and motorcycles one to avoid close contact.

Doctor Jallah suspends transportation of confirmed COVID-19 dead bodies in and out of Liberia during this latest surge and asks airlines and funeral homes to comply accordingly. Jonathan Browne

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