Liberia: Baptist Prelate Calls for Tougher Measures to Combat COVID-19 Amid Surge

Monrovia — Amid the rapid spread of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic in Liberia, the senior Pastor of the historic Providence Baptist Church, Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., has called on the Government of Liberia to put in place stringent measures to stop the escalation of the disease.

Some of these measures, Rev. Reeves said, should include the shutting down of the country for a couple of days to allow healthcare workers carry on proper contact tracing. The clergyman also proposed that top government officials should waive portions of their salaries to the fight against the virus.

As of Tuesday, April 7, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 14; out of this number, three deaths were recorded, three recoveries and eight active cases.

The surge in cases from three to 14 rapidly happened within the space of just three days.

It comes on the back of a national health emergency imposed by Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah two weeks ago, restricting movements and group activities in Montserrado and Margibi Counties to help contain the spread.

The partial lockdown of the two counties was prompted by the confirmation of the third case, which was the nation's first community transmission of the COVID-19. Up to date, the source is still unknown.

However, in an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica on Tuesday, April 7, Rev. Reeves, among other things called for a concerted effort and more stringent measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

"I like to call on the President to shut down this country for few days to help the health workers. I also like to use this time to call on President [George] Weah to say that this is time for a united leadership. No one of you should be dealing with this thing on your own," Rev. Reeves urged.

"The President shouldn't be having his own [Coronavirus taskforce] and the Vice President having her own. Each member of the House of Representatives or the Senators should not have their own. We need to now come together as a country, and put together a plan and implement that plan. Put some money behind it."

Currently the government, through its Incident Management Team headed by the Ministry of Health and the National Public health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) is coordinating the fight against the virus.

However, they are splinter groups including government's ministries and agencies, as well as lawmakers and municipalities that are engaging in the distribution of food and sanitary materials across the country in a bid to contain the virus.

But Reverend Reeves, calling for a united front in combating the disease, urged top government officials including cabinet ministers and members of the 54th Legislature to divert portions of their salaries to the national fight.

"I think government ministers and legislators should take a pay cut at this time, sacrifice for the good of this country. The government is doing a good job but let me challenge you to take a pay cut," he said.

"Let it be a voluntary pay cut and then take that money and distribute as many buckets as we can; distribute them around this country. Don't put anybody's picture on the buckets because it is not about anybody this time, it is about Liberia."

The revered Baptist prelate whose church is regarded as the "Cornerstone of the Nation," is on record of being the first to suspend Sunday worship service before the government's ban.

He lauded the Government of Liberia for the effort so far but warned that much needed to be done to ensure all of the health protocols, including hand washing and social distancing are observed.

He also thanked the religious leaders for their support to the government but called on those that are ignoring the government's mandates and still holding religious ceremonies including church services to desist.

"It is the time that the Church should be the hand and feet of Jesus Christ. It is the time the church should be the Church and represent Jesus Christ," he said.

"The Church is not the building that we assemble in on Sunday. We are the Church. This is another opportunity that the Church goes out and helps. As leaders, we also follow the instructions of the government."

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