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Government should go beyond Covid-19 guidelines

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The fact that the Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Health issued Revised COVID-19 Guidelines last week after increasing death news and high daily recording of new cases presupposes that the government has been paying lip service to the Liberian people in handling the pandemic.

It is an open secret that the authorities here even at the highest level have been relaxed in enforcing COVID protocols or preventive measures by encouraging mass gatherings as were demonstrated by huge receptions during President George Weah’s nationwide tours in the last three to four months in which social distancing, hands washing and nose masks were ignored.      

The virus resurgence in Liberia is being traced to a new variant from India that is more deadly than the one that came from Wuhan, China in 2019.

In less than a month the fatality rate is not just alarming, but scaring.

With porous and poorly manned borders across the country, coupled with rather relaxed security at the main Roberts International Airport that witnessed the influx of foreign visitors particularly from India and other Asian countries during this same period, this was expected. It was only a matter of time.

Now here we are as a nation, with the light from the entire ECOWAS region beaming on Liberians, not for so good a reason but as most infected people that pose risk to the remaining 14 member States.

The revised national guidelines issued last will be meaningless stringent enforcement measures are applied at all levels without fear or favor. We need exemplary leadership this time around if we should succeed in this fight.

One of the critical issues in the guidelines that continue to receive criticism from the public is allowing entertainment centers, including bars and night clubs to operate up to 9:00 pm! This is a license for people to spread the virus.

We find it difficult to understand how can a group of intoxicated people in a bar observe social distancing, lest to say the wearing of masks. The government may be looking at the economic consequences of shutting down such business entities. But the truth of the matter is activities in those places are below sober thought or reasoning with unintended repercussions.

Unless there is vigorous enforcement, Liberia could a problem child for the entire region, which we do want as a government. We need to enforce strict compliance regardless of who is involved.

Lastly, this should not just be about guidelines to be seen as doing something when our health workers and institutions lack the capacity to respond to daily cases. Requisite instruments such as sufficient vaccines, oxygen, ventilators, and beds, among others are urgently needed.

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