E D I T O R I A L
News this week that the Liberian government was lifting the curfew it imposed in the wake of the Ebola outbreak must be welcomed, but not so fast that it is lifting the border closure with Liberia’s neighbors of Guinea, and Sierra Leone! This is bad policy and it is serious, and especially press reports that the borders are poorly manned! Liberia once the hotbed of the crisis has scored an enormous victory against ebola, although not wholly as few cases in the single digits still remain!
Liberia MUST NOT REOPEN ITS borders with its neighbors, not just yet! The EVD has infected more than 24, 000 people, mainly in the Mano River Union countries, since the outbreak begun, and Liberia, once the hotbed of the crisis has now seen a glimmer of hope! Reports say there are 99 new confirmed cases being reported this week with most of these cases coming out of Conakry Guinea and Freetown Sierra Leone! Liberia cannot afford to relapse into a dangerous situation again given the potency of the virus, hence Liberia’s own fragile situation—we have little health infrastructures in the country safe for the recent efforts by Liberian partners and the government. The country and authorities must hold on to the recent gains made and solidify them.
Hence, it is disturbing that in Guinea according to the reputable MSF that has thrust itself into the fight against Ebola in the region that the “Local population remains resistant to health messages. There [are] 35 new confirmed cases in Guinea this week, most in the capital Conakry, according to WHO figures. Despite large-scale education campaigns, many communities are still resistant to the public health messages put out by authorities and international organization.” Sierra Leone is reporting 65 new cases this week also.
The MSF said it “teams have had to deal with a number of security incidents this month in the town of Faranah and several villages, including an MSF vehicle being set on fire and teams being pelted with stones.” While there is desperation in Guinea according to reports to see the virus beaten, unsafe burials continue un-relented.
Given what is happening in Guinea, the Liberian Listener believes the Unity Party Led government under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, must keep Liberia’s borders closed in the interim until the infection rates across Guinea and Sierra Leone abates, or that measurable progress parallel to Liberia is attained across the borders neighboring Liberia!
It cannot be over emphasized that Liberia lacks adequate healthcare, more so, for other deadly diseases, to date, there are eight confirmed cases across the country, a welcomed development indeed
No one is faulting neighboring Cote Ivoire for closing its borders, that decision has spared Ivorian lives and has spared the country the paralysis and troubles we have had to grapple with. And more importantly, at the onset of this crisis, it was Liberia’s refusal to close its border and the slow response generated by the national government coupled with the citizenry own complacency and inaction that has seen the country suffered so much. We cannot afford that AGAIN! The Liberian government must close the borders as we remain cautiously optimistic that the situation will improve in Sierra Leone and Guinea soon!