Several senior level officials at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning have been placed under 21 days observatory surveillance.
The officials were said to have come in direct or indirect contact with Ebola victim late Mr. Patrick Sawyer. Mr. Sawyer died last Thursday upon arrival in Lagos, Nigeria hours after he disembarked from an Arik airliner.
Those placed on 21 days observatory surveillance includes Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh, Deputy Dr. James Kollie among several senior level official.
A Finance and Development Planning statement issued on Monday said at the very highest level of the Ministry, all senior officials coming in direct or indirect contact with Mr. Sawyer have been placed on surveillance starting July 20, the day Mr. Sawyer departed Liberia for Nigeria where he died.
Mr. Sawyer was the Coordinator of the ECOWAS National Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He died in Lagos, Nigeria having contracted the virus in Liberia where the disease has killed 129 victims out of 249 cases. In its statement issued Monday, July 28, the Ministry also announced several measures to ensure public safety and instill confidence in users of services at the Ministry.
These includes all concerned senior officials to telecommute up until when certified by the Ministry of Health to return to active duty, meaning that they will not have to go to the Ministry during the surveillance period.
The measures concern both the former Ministry of Finance and the former Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs buildings, and the newly constructed National Authorizing Office of the European Union. Ministry further announced a temporarily shut down at 12: 00pm on Monday, July 28, to reopen today Tuesday, July 29.
It asked that all employees who made no contact but have been traumatized as a result of the situation in the last few days were freed to take some time off if they like until it is necessary to return to duty.
However, it said all essential employees still working at the Ministry were asked to observe preventive tips including four persons per trip in the elevator; absolutely no clustering on the stairways and no gathering of more than five persons except for meetings in conference spaces or spatial environment. Other measures include no handshakes, hugging of other physical bodily contact and to report any suspicious illness or strange conditions among employees.
It further stated that only persons with genuine business dealings and transactions would be permitted on the premises; and has encouraged all employees to wear long sleeve clothing to minimize any possible risk of exposure. Staffs have been told to use the hand washer or personalized sanitizers or disposable gloves available at the Ministry's entrance.
"These measures take immediate effect as the MFDP treats this crisis seriously and will work to continue our support to ongoing national response effort. Consistent with the President's message and pledge, the MFDP, with support from our other partners, is committed to providing the full range of support required to address this situation in coming days," the Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry has advised the public to carry out normal transactional businesses at the Ministry and follow closely the measures announced in the interest of public health.
It concludes that the MFPD tax policy unit will review, in conjunction with the Liberia Revenue Authority, a proposal for the relaxation of tariffs and duties on the importation of sanitary materials and other bleach products during the period of this situation.