House of Representatives Cites Health Authorities Over Preparedness to Combat Coronavirus

MONROVIA, Montserraddo – Health authorities and other vital government functionaries will appear before the House of Representatives on March 24 to brief lawmakers on Liberia’s preparedness in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

Those government agencies expected to appear before the House include the National Public Health Institution of Liberia, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Transport.

Already, three confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in the country.

The House made the decision to cite health authorities on Thursday, March 19 based on concerns raised by Margibi’s fourth district representative, Ben Fofana, in a communication addressed to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers. Fofana asked for updates from health authorities regarding the plans and mechanisms they have instituted to respond to any major COVID-19 outbreak in Liberia.

The Ministry of Commerce was included among health institutions in order to address the question of the availability of essential commodities and food items on the market. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports was invited to address any measures put in place to control or discourage large gatherings of people, especially at sporting and related events.

According to Rep. Fofana, it was also important that the Labor Ministry be cited to provide information about the government’s plans on how to protect workers who may likely be laid off or forced to stay home as a mitigation measure against the spread of the virus. Without daily work and income, these workers could be without a livelihood.

The presence of the Ministry of Transport was also sought to provide information on any plans to mitigate the virus spread through public transport, including public buses and taxis.

In his letter to the general body, Rep. Fofana was emphatic about the need to encourage all Liberians to follow the guidelines and prevention protocols suggested by President Weah during his national address on Monday, March 16, when he announced the first case of the virus in Liberia.

Given the widespread human toll reported from affected countries in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., lawmakers appear intensely concerned, and even fearful, about similar consequences befalling Liberia if serious prevention and control measures are not urgently instituted. They, therefore, insist Liberians must not take the disease lightly.

Pres. Weah’s pronouncement about mitigation measures came a few days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Rep. Fofana’s request was unanimously endorsed by the House of Representatives and the named institutions will appear on Tuesday, March 24.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Liberia in Mass Communications and Sociology. She graduated from the Young Political Leadership School and has worked in the past for Farbric Radio, Freedom Radio, and Frontier newspaper.

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