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Liberia’s messy COVID-19 fight

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Amid a daily rise in new cases of the deadly Delta variant from the coronavirus, Liberia is now without vaccines to prevent its citizens from contracting the virus, which is spreading across the country like wildfire.

The country’s remaining doses of the 96,000 AstraZeneca jabs received in April this year expired on Saturday, July 10, 2021, having administered over 90,000 among a population of 4.5 million people, barely a drop in the bucket.

What is even of grave concern though is authorities’ handling of the third wave of outbreak, particularly from the Delta variant brought into the country largely by travelers from India and other Asian countries via the Roberts International Airport, where health regulations were seriously compromised for alleged personal gains.

Airport security and health regulators commercialized COVID-19 test results, and in some instances, gave incoming visitors access to the capital unchecked, raising the infection rate among the population. On the other hand, the Minister of Health Doctor Wilhelmina S. Jallah has been more concerned with collecting US$75.00 from travelers for the COVID-19 test than keeping surveillance.  

The government is still cleaning up the mess created at the RIA effecting suspensions and dismissal, but the harm has already been caused with over 5,000 confirmed cases and nearly 200 deaths recorded, at least by official counts.

Even citizens that took the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccines are being left to wait up to August or September for the arrival of the fresh consignment of vaccines, while the virus rages, affecting lives.

The grim picture has left the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to place Liberia’s COVID-19 at Level4, meaning a very high-risk country in entire West Africa. As a result, travelers from Liberia are being subjected to vigorous scrutiny at airports in the region and beyond.

Unlike Ghana and elsewhere in the region, Liberia is yet to embark on mass testing to identify infection trends among its population for informed decision-making. Health institutions here lack basic supplies, including PPEs to fight the virus.

Frontline authorities in the COVID-19 fight need to wake up and recalibrate to put Liberia on the right trajectory if we should win the battle against the pandemic. The Weah administration seems to have lost focus in the ongoing fight after it mismanaged US$30 million allotted from the national budget for stimulus package during the first round of the outbreak in 2020. The government has failed to account for the money.

Amid the seeming lack of political will and clear strategy in tackling the health crisis, the population faces a risk of any kind, including mass infection and death that could bring the country to its knees.

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