TAPPITA, Nimba â€“ Amid rumors that the Coronavirus death recorded in Nimba did not actually test positive, two Nimba lawmakers are seeking clarity from the Ministry of Health.
Both Rep. Prince Tokpah of Nimbaâ€™s second district and Rep. Dorwohn Gleekia of the sixth district think the ministry may not have provided the full picture regarding the cause of death of Darlington Gweh.
In Tappita, many residents have doubted the announcement of the first Coronavirus death. They noted that if Gweh had the virus, he would have shown the signs and symptoms before his death.
Gweh, a U.S.-based Liberian, had traveled to Liberia to pay the bride price for his wife when he became sick and died. The head of the Jackson F. Doe Hospital, Dr. Saygbay Vanyabah, confirmed that Gweh had tested positive of the virus.
Concerned about the potential stigmatization of his district and given rumors he had heard about contradicting test results, Rep. Gleekia said he had engaged Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah to provide clarity and to prove that Gweh actually died of the virus.
â€œWe donâ€™t want people thinking that we are challenging the result, but we just need clarity because we are seeing contradictions in this whole thing,â€ Gleekia said.
â€œWe understand that there were multiple tests conducted on this body that came out negative and later we understand that another test came out positive. So I have engaged Dr. Jallah to give me clarity. If she can convince me that the man was actually positive, then we will not have any problem.â€
Rep. Tokpah, meanwhile, asked the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information to ensure that they are providing only factual information to the public. He said if both ministries do so, Liberians will have no problem with them.
The two lawmakers also gave their opinions on the state of emergency announced by Pres. George Weah, as part of the measures meant to contain the further spread of the Coronavirus.
The lawmakers appeared most concerned with the survival of their constituents, many of whom are self-employed or vulnerably employed. The lawmakers expressed the need to see mechanisms put in place by the Executive Mansion to ensure that citizens can survive throughout the emergency period.
The two men also disclosed that the president did not consult the legislature prior to the announcement of the state of emergency. The constitution does not require the president to consult the entire legislature before announcing a state of emergency, although it does require him to notify the heads of each house at the legislature, which the president said he did.
Rep. Gleekia, who chairs the Houseâ€™s Committee on Peace and Reconciliation, said there was not enough time provided for citizens to store food and other provisions. He said the president should have also considered paying civil servants, particularly health workers, for March and April before coming out with such pronouncement.
As the legislature reconvenes this week, Gleekia vowed to seek a one-week period where Liberians can properly prepare to adhere to the presidentâ€™s order. If his recommendations are not adhered to, Gleekia vowed to reject the presidentâ€™s request.
The state of emergency has imposed restrictions on movements across counties. Additionally, in Nimba, Margibi, Grand Kru, and Montserrado, all residents are ordered to stay at home and only venture out for essential trips having to do with food and medication.
Featured photo by Jerry Myers