Liberia: 'Shut Down the Airports, Former Senator Ballout Tells Govt

Monrovia — Former Maryland County Senator, Mr. John Ballout, has urged the government to shut down the airports and close borders after Liberia reported Monday, March 16, its first confirmed case of the 2019 coronavirus.

Liberians woke up to the news that their Environment Protection Agency Executive Director, Dr. Nathaniel Blamah has been confirmed to be the first to be tested positive with COVID-19, the disease associated with the new strain of the coronavirus.

The news has instilled fear among Liberians. Some blamed Dr. Blamah for allegedly refusing to adhere to established protocols set up at the Robert International Airport by health authorities. Dr. Blamah was later suspended on Monday by President George Weah.

Speaking to journalists, Mr. Ballout said the screening exercise alone cannot help; he advised government to take stringent measures by deploying military personnel at every border point of entry.

The former Maryland County Senator said that he understands the difficult economic condition the decision could bring but citizens' lives matter in the fight against the virus.

"This is a country with a fragile health sector, poor economy; the people have too much to worry about than the risk of virus that we don't have means to handle," Mr. Ballout said.

According to him, Liberia does not have the capacity, expertise, infrastructure and financial power, therefore the government should focus on prevention, by suspending flights into the country.

"My advice is, we shut down the airports; suspend all international flights for the minimum of two weeks as we observe the global trend on how things are going," Ambassador Ballout suggested.

He strongly recommended that the government announce the closure of the country's borders with its neighbours and that the military be deployed at these border points.

On which flight to be let in, the former Ambassador to Pakistan, thinks that the government shouldn't get involved deciding which flight is important to let in or not but just wants the borders close so that its 4.5 million population can be spared.

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