West and Central Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Trends

Liberia

Liberia strengthens night curfew against the coronavirus, airport reopens

  • First case: 16 March 2020

  • Total cases: 1,108 (as of 23 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 70

  • Schools: Reopened on 29 June for the 12th Graders to take the West African Examination Council’s exam

  • Borders/flights: The airport has been closed since 22 March and reopened on 29 June.

  • Containment measures: Liberian authorities announced on 22 June a tightening of the night curfew and an extension of the state of emergency until 21 July, noting that Liberians were no longer complying with health regulations.

Situation:

The President George Weah announced on 22 June a tightening of the night curfew (now in effect from 6:00 p.m.) and an extension of the state of emergency until 21 July, noting that Liberians were no longer complying with health regulations. Monrovia-Roberts International Airport has been open for commercial flights since 29 June after three months of closure. Passengers on departure and arrival must submit to strict health measures: compulsory Covid-19 screening test, temperature measurement, social distancing, wearing a mask or registering on a mobile phone tracking application, among others. This reopening comes at a time when the country recorded 45 new coronavirus patients on 27 June, the highest number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic in mid-March. Liberia recorded its first COVID-19 case on 16 March 2020. Since then, the country has confirmed 804 people with the infection, including 37 who died. Immediate steps taken by the government after the detection of the first case included the declaration of a health emergency, which entailed certain restrictive measures from large gatherings, closure of all schools nationwide and enforcing social distancing among others. In addition to the confinement of the capital Monrovia and three other regions, movement is banned between all parts of the country in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

Already traumatized by the deadly Ebola epidemic and several civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed 250,000 people, Liberia is a country of about 5 million people in the grip of major economic difficulties including galloping inflation and fuel shortages.

Response:

  • The Government has developed a preparedness and response plan with support from partners and activated the Incident Management System (IMS) to drive the response under the leadership of the Minister of Health supported by the national COVID-19 response coordinator.

  • Liberia has made significant progress in testing and response with the establishment of the COVID-19 Laboratory, case tracking, a dedicated Treatment Unit and Precautionary Observation Centres.

  • IMS has been activated in most counties with county-level preparedness and response plans; acceleration of risk communication and community engagement including a hand-washing countrywide campaign, data analysis and Infection Prevention and Control, country-wide surge capacity for case management are ongoing. 

  • The humanitarian community is working with the Government to address challenges amid COVID-19 through changing of modalities for intervention to reach those most in need and repurposing of existing funding in response to the pandemic. Some activities in the response will include: emergency social safety net interventions through in-kind food and cash-based transfer modalities; provision of assets and tools to increase agriculture and livestock production; continuation of essential live-saving interventions; capacity strengthening of health and social welfare personnel and supply chain services.

Official sources:

https://liberia.un.org/en/40820-coordinated-response-coronavirus

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