FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

7 August 2014

Liberia in State of Emergency Over Ebola Outbreak, Rights On Hold

Monrovia — The outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus continues to be a huge challenge for Liberia, as the country continues to use medical means to tackle the deadly outbreak that has led to, 516 cases (143 confirmed, 252 probable, and 121 suspected), including 282 deaths, according to the World Health organization as of August 4 and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after declaring the virus a national emergency and taking several measures has indicated that despite these measures, the virus continues to cause more harm to the people of Liberia and has therefore declared a state of emergency.

'32 Health Care Workers Deaths'

Said Sirleaf "With 32 deaths of health care workers, the death rate amongst citizens, especially amongst health care workers is very alarming, two weeks ago, I established a national task force which I chair myself to respond to this crisis and instructed all nonessential government staff to stay home for 30 days. Ordered the closure of schools and authorized the fumigation of all public buildings. We have shut markets in affected areas and have restricted movements in orders. We have improved our response time and contact tracking and began coordinating with regional and international partners. Despite these and continuing efforts the threats continue to grow, ignorance, poverty as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease especially in the counties".

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President Sirleaf, in a state of the Nation address late Wednesday said the nature and extent of the increase in the death toll from the virus has put the health care delivery system of the country under intense pressure.

"The health care system in the country is now under immense strain and the Ebola epidemic is having a chilling effect on overall health delivery for the fear of being infected with the disease healthcare practitioners are afraid to accept new patients especially in community clinics all across the country. Consequently, many common diseases which especially prevalent during the rainy season such as, malaria, typhoid and common colds are going untreated and may lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths. The virus currently has no cure and has a fatality rate of over 90%. The aggregate number of patients confirmed, probable and suspected in Liberia has now exceeded 500 with about 271 cumulative deaths".

The actions allowed by statute and public health law, President Sirleaf observed are no longer adequate to deal with the Ebola epidemic indicating that a comprehensive and holistic approached is required to deal with the scope and scale of the epidemic due to the virulent and deadliness of the virus which she stated has now exceeded the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry.

"The Ebola virus disease the ramifications and consequences thereof, now constitute an unrest affecting the existing security and well being of the republic, amounting to a clear and present danger. The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the rights of our people. Therefore, and by virtue of the power vested in me, as President of the Republic of Liberia, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia in keeping with Article 86 a and b of the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, hereby declare a state of emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia effective as of August 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days", President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ebola 'Now Constitutes Unrest'

In declaring the state of emergency, President Sirleaf said "The Ebola virus disease the ramifications and consequences thereof, now constitute an unrest affecting the existing security and well being of the republic, amounting to a clear and present danger. The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measure for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the rights of our people. Therefore, and by virtue of the power vested in me, as President of the Republic of Liberia, I Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Liberia of Liberia in keeping with Article 86 a and b of the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, hereby declare a state of emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia effective as of August 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days".

The President said under the state of emergency, the government will institute extraordinary measures, including, if need be the suspension of certain rights and privileges as mandated by the constitution.

The Ebola virus outbreak, she further said poses serious risk to the health, safety, security and welfare of Liberia and beyond the public health risk the disease is now undermining the economic stability of the country in the tune of millions of dollars in lost revenue, productivity and economic activities.

On Tuesday the president declared three days of fast and prayer, and on Wednesday some Liberians went about their normal activities some gathered in churches and on street corners to pray to God and implore his divine intervention to help curb the deadly outbreak.

At the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street, Rev. Dr. Julius Y. Z. K. Williams admonished Liberians to repent from their sins. He named sins such as homosexuality, drinking, adultery and fornication as some of the acts that keep holding Liberia in sin.

"God hates adultery; some people can hide the rings and put it in their pockets. The ring is just a symbol, but you're still married" he said. "If you talk about God daughter it means that you came and you stood for the child that you will help the child grow spiritually; not knowing you're helping the child to celebrate the devil's world." Near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, many Liberians danced with hands waving in the air praising God.

'Necessary to Pray'

Rev. Kortu Brown, 1st Vice President of the Liberia Council of Churches told FrontPage Africa late Wednesday evening that it was necessary to pray against the Ebola virus for three reasons.

"We are spiritual and physical people. Since we are not just physical, but we are spiritual people, we have problems that we need spiritual help. So making prayer applications are part of spiritual component," he said.

"Two is to increase awareness. Just by the fact that the church community declared fast and prayer confirms that the disease is real. The intent of the third one was to stay home and pray. That should help undermine the spread of the disease because the disease is spread through human connectivity."

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday called on all Liberians to observe three days of National Fast and Prayer beginning Wednesday, August 6 through Friday, August 8, 2014 from 6:00 AM to 6:00PM daily.

"I call on all Liberians to observe three days of National Fast and Prayer to seek God's face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue the fight against the deadly Ebola virus," she said according to an Executive Mansion release.

She said this call is indicative that God is the ultimate solution of this crisis and source of Liberia's deliverance as a nation. The executive mansion release stated that the observance of the National Fast and Prayer is being held under the auspices of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC).

The Religious Advisor to the President, Rev. Jervis Witherspoon, also a member of the LCC, said that to climax the National Fast and Prayer on Friday, August 8th, a team of religious leaders will meet at the old Providence Baptist Church on Broad Street to lead prayers for the nation during the last three hours, beginning at 3:00 pm according to the release.

On Friday, religious leaders will offer prayers for the spiritual, moral and physical restoration of the land including prayers for the elimination of Ebola and other pestilence from the country according to President Sirleaf.

'National Repentance'

"Prayer for comfort and strength for hurting families who have lost loved ones; prayer for healing and restoration of quarantined individuals in the land; prayer for the protection of health workers and other volunteers in harm's way as they fight the deadly Ebola virus; prayer against any form of witchcraft activity used to spread Ebola virus; as well as prayer for God's intervention in the sub-regional counties (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia) affected by the Ebola virus," she said.

"We are calling on all Liberians to join in this time of true national repentance and prayer against the Ebola virus," Rev. Witherspoon urged his fellow compatriots, adding, "We believe, in accordance to the scripture, that God will hear our prayer, forgive our sins and heal the land."

As of August 4, the WHO reports that new cases and deaths attributable to EVD continue to be reported by the Ministries of Health in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Between 2 and 4 August 2014, 108 new cases (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) of EVD and 45 deaths were reported from the four countries as follows: Guinea, 10 new cases and 5 deaths; Liberia, 48 new cases and 27 deaths; Nigeria, 5 new cases and 0 death; and Sierra Leone, 45 new cases and 13 deaths.

Violence at Bo-Water Side

The WHO data states "As of 4 August 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the four countries stands at 1 711, including 932 deaths. The distribution and classification of the cases are as follows: Guinea, 495 cases (351 confirmed, 133 probable, and 11 suspected), including 363 deaths; Liberia, 516 cases (143 confirmed, 252 probable, and 121 suspected), including 282 deaths; Nigeria, 9 cases (0 confirmed, 2 probable, and 7 suspected), including 1 death; and Sierra Leone, 691 cases (576 confirmed, 49 probable, and 66 suspected), including 286 deaths".

During the week of July 27-Aug 2 now termed the dark week there were 173 new cases and 94 deaths, according to the Ministry of health and WHO statistics on the disease in Liberia. In Grand Cape Mount County at Liberia's border with Sierra Leone Bo-Waterside community resorted to violence and chased away the two confirmed cases that were awaiting transport to the treatment unit in Monrovia according to the health ministry. Roadblocks are now being set to force the removal and burial of the confirmed dead body.

In Nimba County the Ganta United Methodist Hospitals hasveprovided a structure to be used, after renovation, as a holding unit and possibly a treatment unit 2 confirmed cases are still residing in the communities in Ganta because the treatment unit in Monrovia has no available bed.

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