Health Workers under the banner of the Liberia Medical and Dental Association (LMDA) are demanding a nationwide lockdown to battle the new wave of COVID-19 Pandemic in the country.
Speaking through the President of LMDA, Dr. Emmanuel K. Ekginabah, the health workers are calling on government to implement an immediate nationwide lockdown to initiate massive contact tracing and arrest the rapid spread of the virus within the population.
Dr. Ekginabah made the assertion as the new wave continues to spread around the nation.
He indicated that the Ministry of Health should consider opening additional isolation and treatment centers across Liberia.
He noted that the Health Ministry should act swiftly since the current available facilities are rapidly running out of capacity and supplies to accommodate the increasing number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases.
“We also recommend the isolation of all COVID-19 cases whether symptomatic or asymptomatic as was done during the first wave,” he added.
The LMDA President lamented that health workers should be protected with needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in all facilities at all times.
He maintained that lack of PPE will lead to increased infection amongst health workers, thus causing panic and demotivation to others.
He pointed out that government through the Ministry of Health should consider expanding and decentralizing testing facilities so as to shorten turn-around time of COVID-19 immediately.
LMDA President Ekyinabah emphasized that government should encourage collaboration with the private sector if possible and ensure validation of result through the National Reference Lab.
The call comes after Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah announced series of measures already in place such as wearing face masks, washing hands, and social distancing to limit the further spread of the virus.
Dr. Jallah said large gatherings exceeding 20 people were still banned, stressing that sporting events will only be allowed without fans, and the number of people allowed on public transport will be cut down.
“We are advising all our public offices to reduce their staff by 50 percent. We are not saying essential or non-essential, we say reduce your staff by 50 percent,” she stressed.
The Health Minister indicated that learning institutions will be shut down if people are non-compliant to the health guidelines in place on various campuses.
Meanwhile, President George Weah said these new Measures and Protocols are to be strictly observed by all citizens and residents within the country’s borders, and will be rigorously enforced by the security forces, where necessary.
President Weah said the mandate follows a meeting of the Cabinet on the severity and growing situation of the COVID-19 Virus as explained to the Cabinet by the Minister of Health.
The Health Minister informed the Cabinet that hospitals are presently full with people experiencing breathing difficulties, and that there were 50 patients in the treatment unit, 33 of whom were severely ill.
But, President Weah said this is far more alarming than a year ago “when we were experiencing our first wave, and we are told that this new COVID -19 variant is even more deadly than the two previous strains experienced since last March when we got our Index case.”
He added: “I have been made aware of an alarming increase in the number of persons in Liberia who are contracting the new strain of the COVID-19 virus.”
The President had to convene an emergency Cabinet Meeting to review the full scale of this concerning situation, and to seek an appropriate plan of action to be adopted by Government to address this threatening situation.
Pres. Weah encouraged Liberians, saying: “Our Nation has been faced with many dangers and challenges in the past decade, but we have always shown our resilience as a People to stand together, rise up, and gather the will and courage to confront and overcome these dangers and threats.
“I am of the strong conviction that, united in a concerted and collective approach, and backed by the full resources of Government, we will once again prevail over this new pestilence.”
However, Pres. Weah said, “in order to achieve a successful outcome, we must once again take some hard decisions that will curtail some of our everyday freedoms, but always knowing that whatever measures we impose as a Government are for the common good and well-being of us all.”
He also said: “We would like to thank our bilateral and multi-lateral partners for your continued support and partnership in our efforts in fighting this dreadful COVID-19 disease that continues to plague our common world.”
He acknowledged the dedication and resilience of the gallant health workers, especially those on the frontline in the fight against this deadly disease, adding: “Your sacrifices are deeply appreciated by a grateful Nation.”