Like President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf intimated in one of her recent addresses to the nation, the difficulty in controlling the current outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in Liberia is the direct result of persistent denials, cultural varying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government.
Despite the encouragement and vigorous awareness and sensitization undertaking by the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health, on the necessary preventive measures against the spread of the Ebola disease, as well as the urgent need for people who become ill to report to hospitals for testing and treatment, if needed, battling the myths and fear surrounding the Ebola disease continues to be as tough as fighting the disease itself. As a result of the foregoing reasons, the disease continues to widely spread in Monrovia and its environs, especially in densely populated communities, overwhelming the capacity of the government to make progress against Ebola.
It is against this backdrop that President Sirlesf, on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, imposed a curfew on Montserrado County beginning Wednesday, August 20, 2914 from 9pm to 6 in the morning, as additional measures to contain the spread of Ebola. In addition to the Montserrado County curfew, the President also announced in her address to the nation, the immediate quarantining of the Coastal Township of West Point in Central Monrovia and Dolo Town in Margibi County – about 40km or 25 miles from Monrovia under full security watch- a decision that has already gone into effect. Quarantining these two communities means curtailing movements in and out.
The closure of all entertainment and video centers at a 6pm local time also took effect on Wednesday, August20 as part of the new measures, even though President Sirleaf did not say how long the measures would last. Owing to the limitations and ignorance exhibited by many Liberians that have got the disease spread widely in Monrovia and environs, the actions announced by the Government of Liberia may only yield fruitful result if and only if the basic necessities of life are put in place for the sustenance of those in communities that are already quarantined.
In ensuring the supply of the basic needs of these communities, including food, the administration must divorce itself from all of the bureaucratic bottom-necks. While its may be very prudent, the government must really prioritize other measures of sustainability to keep these communities quarantined so that people who may already be infected will not sneak out into other communities in search of food and other basic needs to survive.