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US$1.2m requested to fight Ebola

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Senate’s Chairman on Health has announced an urgent need for US$1.2 million to fight Ebola related cases.

Making the disclosure Thursday in the chambers of the Liberian Senate during its statutory sitting at the Capitol, Grand Kru County Senator, Dr. Peter Sonpon Coleman, said there’s need for the funds to be made available in order to equip the Health Ministry to combat the disease.

In 2008, the Liberian Government announced the outbreak of Armyworms in Bong County and that US$1.1 Million was projected by then Agriculture Minister, Dr. Chris Toe to combat the disease.

Senator Coleman, who won on the ticket of the former ruling National Patriotic Party in his verbatim presentation to his colleagues in chambers, indicated that there is no scientific proof to establish the Ebola virus has entered Liberia, but quickly pointed out that whatever virus it be maybe, the government should act now to protect the lives of Liberians, especially leeward counties that are sharing borders with affected countries.

The former Health Minister during the tyrannical regime of convicted former President Charles Taylor informed his colleagues that due to wide publicity given the virus through the government strongly carried by the local media here, Liberians currently traveling out of here are facing serious challenge of being accepted by visiting countries.

He noted that if the government finds it difficult in raising the amount, it should begin the process with little available amount to empower health workers and create some preventive measures that could safeguard Liberians in the near future if there may be any outbreak.

Adding his voice to the debate, Bong County Senator Henry Yallah said that he had an invitation from the African Union to attend a conference in Algeria but based on media reports, he was informed Wednesday night that he (Yallah) should remain here to observe the situation before joining them.

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“Because of Ebola virus, we that have official duties to perform internationally, we have been rejected by host countries and I think the matter should swiftly be handled so that Liberians can move around globally freely,” he said.

But Senator H. Dan Morais of Maryland County blamed the local media for what termed embarrassment being experience by Liberians traveling. He told the plenary that media reports on the virus are damning and have created fear in the minds of foreigners and tourists, who have plans of coming to Liberia.

“Many of my partners and friends that were due in here are aborting their respective trips because of these damning information being sent out there and interestingly, many of the local papers have web pages that are closely followed by the international community in terms of decision making,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) has pointed out that there is no need for foreigners to harbor fear of coming to Liberia.

BIN Commissioner Cllr. Lemuel Reeves said the fear that is circulating within the country about the Ebola virus needs serious attention to stop misinterpretation of the virus in order to properly inform the general public.

Fear of the deadly Ebola virus spread here on Wednesday, with many supermarkets erecting signs, asking customers to wear gloves before touching fruits or vegetables. Same was applied to supermarket attendants.

But the government here has relaxed the fear, saying, no new cases of Ebola infected patient have been reported since the death of some Guineans in the northern border region of Lofa County, indicating that there are no new deaths related to the disease.

The government also said patients transferred from the Ganta Methodist Hospital suspected to have contracted the virus were diagnosed and the test proved negative at the JFK.

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