21 August 2014

Liberia: Quarantine Measure Affects Commercial Activities

Residents of the township of West Point are now bracing the tough realities of staying indoors as part of government's measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus disease that has claimed 492 lives.

Residents of the township and traders from the suburbs of

Monrovia routinely trooped in daily to form part of business transactions in the commercial district of Water Side.

Government Tuesday August 19, 2014 took a series of containment measures including quarantining parts the country of the country where the disease is creating havoc. West Point Township in Montserrado County, Dolo Town in Margibi County, and Ganta in Nimba County are now some of the focused areas.

Over the weekend, 37 Ebola patients escaped from a newly established Ebola treatment center causing panic among health officials, foreigners and citizens.

The looters took away mattresses stained with blood and vomit, cooking utensils and other medical supplies place there to cater to Ebola patients.

But the quarantine exercise of the densely populated enclave (West Point Township) prevented businesses in the largest commercial district of Water Side from conducting normal business for the first time since the Ebola outbreak in March 2014.

Some of the markers who had their goods in various warehouses in the area prior to enforcing the government directive were denied access to the district as well as their goods by law enforcement officers.

A 44-year-old James Gbaryou in an interview with the New Republic said the cost of a 25 kilogram of rice is now sold for L$2,000 or US$24.39.

Gbaryou noted that should continues, most families will "kick-the-bucket'" (die) before the 21-day observation ends.

Also speaking to SKY FM107 radio via mobile phone, a mother of three children and used clothes dealer, Madam Mary Dean, said her goods and the sales for the day were left in the warehouse.

"All my goods and sales for Tuesday were left in the warehouse for fear of robbers, should I take it home. When you take the money with you, you would have lost it even before you realized."

"As I stand here I have in my possession only L$500, and if the quarantine should any longer, which I am told is 21-day period of observation, my family is doomed," his said trying desperately to hold her tears back.

Mary Dean's sentiment was expressed by most of the marketers dominated by women who ply their trade in the Water Side commercial district.

Also in a telephone interview with Sky radio, those trapped in the township called on the government to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation since residents of the township were not given the opportunity to gather enough foodstuff before the quarantine exercise begun.

Some of them said that most food stuffs in their possession in the township will dry down in the next few days and this will lead to further hardship on an already over-stretched populace.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Lewis Brown said the government will provide food stuff to families in the quarantined areas to reduce their difficulties while in isolation.

Minister Brown said while the quarantine exercise is not intended to get at people, it was necessary in containing the disease, given its alarming rate of spread.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Tuesday in a nationwide address announced the imposition of additional measures including the imposition of curfew from 9pm to 6am daily as a way of preventing the spread of the disease.

Other measures included the closure of video clubs and entertainment centers.

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