President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a state of emergency on Ebola disease to enable the government take a more robust approach to deal with the outbreak. She also declared tomorrow, Friday, a work-free day to enable health workers in the country to disinfect and chlorinate all public facilities.
In a nationwide broadcast late Wednesday, Sirleaf also ordered the closure of all the schools in the West African country in an attempt to address the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
“I hereby proclaim a State of Public Emergency to enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak,” Reuters quoted him as saying in a speech late on Wednesday, adding that the measures would initially last between 60 and 90 days.
The President went on to present a National Action Plan against Ebola that would try to contain the spread of the disease. Her office said she was not only worried about taking care of those afflicted, but would focus of the goal of preventing new cases.
As part of the plan, government officials will no longer be allowed to travel unless it is “absolutely necessary and critical” and all non-essential staff — to be determined by the minister or head of an agency — have been placed on 30-day compulsory leave.
Sirleaf revealed that the Liberian government had provided an initial contribution of $5 million for the commencement of immediate implementation of the plan.
She also suspended her participation at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC next week, and thus sent the Vice President, Joseph Boakai and a handful of officials to attend the summit on her behalf.
Last week, Liberia closed it borders with neighbouring countries, only leaving a border entry points open. The nation’s bureau of immigration and naturalisation will intensify supervision and control of the border areas in conjunction with health authorities, to ensure strict adherence to announced preventive measures, including preliminary testing for fever.
“Other measures, without exceptions are that all schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the ministry of education,” she said.
“All markets at border areas, including Foya, Bo Waterside and Ganta, are hereby ordered closed until further notice.
“As previously directed, video clubs and entertainment centres must have improved sanitation, including facilities for the washing of hands prior to entering and exiting as well as to reducing opening hours, and the number of individuals permitted to enter those facilities. All citizens are seriously advised to avoid public amusement and entertainment centres.
“When these measures are instituted, only health care workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas. Food and other medical support will be provided to those communities and affected individuals.
“The ministry of health and relevant agencies are also to consider the cremation of all victims of the deadly Ebola virus. This measure is intended to avoid tampering with the dead and contaminating water sources.”
At about the same time of Sirleaf’s address, President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, was declaring a state of emergency for Ebola and cancelled his participation at the US-Africa Leaders Summit. [myad]