Liberia: Lawmaker Wants GOL Develop COVID-19 Relief Plan

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Grand Kru County district #2 Representative, Fonati Koffa in discussion with colleagues on Capitol Hill

-Urges provision of free food, electricity for 3 months if Coronavirus escalates

Grand Kru County Electoral District 2 Representative, Jonathan Fonati Koffa, is urging the national government to begin to brace itself for prompt interventions as the COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the globe.

Rep. Koffa, who is the Chairman on Judiciary Committee the House of Representative , wants the Government of Liberia (GoL) to provide free food and electricity for three consecutive months if the Coronavirus pandemic escalates in the country.

The Grand Kru District #2 Representative said the government should now start to plan for the provision of food and other essential commodities to residents just in case there is an upgrade on the stringent 21 days lockdown measures imposed on Montserrado and Margibi Counties by the government.

The lawmaker, who seems to be looking ahead, believes that to curtail the spread of the pandemic, there would be a state of emergency that would lead to a curfew very soon if the current rate at which the virus is spreading should be considered.

"In time of peace, let's prepare for war," Rep. Koffa said told a briefing in Monrovia.

Global health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are predicting a worst case scenario of spread of the infectious coronavirus or COVID-19 as the pandemic is yet to reach its peak of afflictions in Africa and some parts of the world. These global institutions are therefore calling on governments and people worldwide to brace themselves as these critical times approach.

It is against this backdrop that the Grand Kru County Lawmaker is urging adequate and rapid response efforts; even though making such a humane statement in a country where electricity is scarce and unstable coupled with the government's inability to provide free food to millions of people in Montserrado and Margibi Counties considering even the petroleum crisis facing the population.

He is optimistic of the speedy eradication of the virus from the country, but wants the Liberian Government to get ready for emergency aid if the virus escalates in the country.

"Emergency relief in terms of one bag of rice per household; cans of meat and fish, bag of water should be made available every month. We must prepare for three months," the Grand Kru Lawmaker added. He reminded Liberians that in time of peace, they must prepare for war; such as the invisible war (Coronavirus or COVID-19).

"If we are prepared, we will win the war against this virus. We may not have all the resources but we have to do what we can to help our people in such a critical time. These are the time our people will need us the most. Now that we still have time, it is the most appropriate period for preparation of such magnitude," he said.

Rep. Koffa said the Ministry of Public Works needs to start working with the municipalities to develop address system for each house and statistics on each of the 1.5 million households in Liberia.

"In the event of a State of Emergency and lockdown, we will have to feed our people. The AFL can be used in this implementation," he said.

As things stand now, the international partners need to help with more than just the provision of testing kits, he said.

"Emergency relief items of 1 bag of rice per household and cans of meat and fish and bag of water every month. We must prepare for 3 months. Let's reach out to world food program, the US, EU, local businesses and partners and put a 25 million dollars emergency relief together," he said.

In the midst of a state of emergency that comes with dusk to dawn curfew, many fear that the biggest concern won't be coronavirus, but hunger as majority of the citizenry are dependent upon daily hustle.

The first two days of such a stringent measure would throw the lives of some of Liberia's poorest people into disarray. And it would become more dangerous if subsisting on food handouts and hand-washing and social distancing are impossible. Many think this would become a complete catastrophe if the government does not have a contingency plan.

India has had the biggest lockdown in human history so far -- ordering 1.3 billion Indians to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the measure has since unleashed chaos across the country as stranded migrant workers sleep in city streets, police beat curfew-breakers, fruits and vegetables rot in markets and masses of informal laborers find their livelihoods wiped out.

However, renowned Liberian Economist, Samuel P. Jackson, is also calling for innovative and creative emergency economic plan for the country.

Jackson stated that the predictive analytics for the exponential increase of the disease globally does not bode well for Liberia. Millions could become infected. There will be a breakout in Africa. Borders are porous.

"I want to call on the government to do something. Create a robust economic strategy to deal with this disease," he said, adding, "I may consider supporting a national effort with other experts. Your government does not have the technical depth to handle this challenge. Don't say I didn't warn you."

Like Jackson, many Economic experts have begun raising the global alarm over how hardly hit the economies of all countries will be hit by the outbreak.

Jackson predicts that global economy will contract by almost 30 percent in this quarter and Global GDP could contract by as much as 50 percent for the year. "I see no recovery this year," Jackson said on his social media page on Monday.

Not only will demand drop for iron ore and gold, he said demand for Liberia's rubber will drop due to disruptions to supply chains, he said--making Liberia's case more precarious.

The country has three confirmed cases of those who have come down with the virus. Of these three, at least 400 contacts have been identified. These include "low and high-risk contacts, the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute has said.

On the continental level, 40 of Africa's 54 countries have now reported confirmed cases of the virus. Experts say the virus is moving at an exponentially high rate. It took 67 days to reach the first 100,000 cases. It took 11 days to record the second 100K cases; it took just four days to record the third 100K cases. And it has taken just two and half days to record the next 100K cases.

With this trend, epidemiologists and others with vast knowledge of covid-19, believe that the disease has not yet reached its peak.

The latest update indicates that at least 737,575 have been affected with the virus. Of this number, 546, 313 still had the virus, while 156, 264 have recovered or gotten well and 34,998 have died.

Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso have recorded above 100 cases--a call for more vigilance locally is being amplified from many Liberians, including Rep. Koffa.

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