Liberia: Weah Under Pressure

Following mounting public pressure, President George Manneh Weah is expected to address the nation today, Wednesday, 8 April on his government's strategies to fight the coronavirus pandemic amid total confirmed cases here at 14, including three deaths.

Today's address will be the second since President Weah disclosed the country's index case in a nationwide broadcast on March 16, involving a senior official of his government, who had returned from Switzerland, but chose to self-quarantine.

Nathaniel Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency subsequently completed a 21-day government quarantine and was discharged from hospital last week along with two others.

The government has instituted series of measures, including closure of schools, churches, mosques and entertainment centers, including restrictions on banks and other businesses.

Liberia's Minister of Health Doctor Wilhemina Jallah declared the Coronavirus pandemic a National Health Emergency here on March 22, discouraging travels between Montserrado and Margibi Counties, described as "infected areas."

Doctor Jallah said the action was in keeping with Title 33, chapter 14 of the Public Health Law of Liberia.

However, public pressure has mounted across the country for President Weah to take charge of the nation's COVID-19 fight and update the public regularly on progress achieved rather than leaving it with health authorities.

As part of ongoing public awareness, the President produced a coronavirus song here recently that has gone wide both locally and internationally, urging citizens to observe all preventive measures, including constant hands washing, keeping social distance and reporting sick relatives immediately to health authorities for testing.

Since the outbreak, the government is yet to present any economic strategy to give the population hope. Several thousand public workers have been sent home on compulsory leave, while salary is yet to come forth.

Besides, with basic commodities such as rice and petroleum face shortage despite assurance from authorities, uncertainty looms over a population of nearly 4 million people about their survivability.

Liberians are bracing themselves amid speculations of an imminent lockdown to prevent spread of the coronavirus.Public workers here have called on government to pay salaries for at least two months to enable them cope, while staying at home.

Civil servants across the country, including thousands of non-essential staff sent on compulsory leave have not taken pay for March.The President of the Liberia Labour Congress, Mulbah Johnson, says suspension of businesses is a reason to assist employees.

Speaking Monday to a local radio station, he said government should pay at least two months' salaries to empower the workforce amid the current health crisis.Mr. Johnson also stressed the need to provide protection and increase incentives for health workers in the country because they are on the frontline, leading the fight against the virus.

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