The Ebola outbreak has finally spurred Liberia to implement new restrictions. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered all but three border crossings in the country closed. 670 people have died from the disease, including 129 in Liberia.
A top Liberian doctor died over the weekend, and two American aid workers have fallen ill to the disease, Public gatherings have been restricted in the country, and hotspot communities have been quarantined.
Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have been criticized for the slowness in which they are working to contain the Ebola outbreak. Just last week, an infected Liberian official flew to Nigeria. He later died of the disease at a Lagos hospital. Many in the health community are questioning the ability of a sick individual to board an international flight.
It is also raising fears that the disease is set to spread to other African nations. Speaking about the start of a new national taskforce to battle Ebola, Sirleaf commented on the severity. “No doubt, the Ebola virus is a national health problem. And as we have also begun to see, it attacks our way of life, with serious economic and social consequences.”
The new regulations will let security forces commandeer vehicles to help in enforcement. For now, Liberia will keep Roberts International Airport open, which is outside Monrovia. The James Spriggs airport will also remain open.
Demonstrations and marches have been banned, and restaurants are required to screen a five-minute film on the disease.
Liberia’s Finance Ministry is also trying to instill confidence after an employee died of the disease. New sanitation protocols have been put into place, and the suspension of tariffs on sanitizing agents is under review. The country should move to suspend the tariffs now to try to get ahead of the disease.
Ebola has no known cure and an extremely high mortality rate. Symptoms start with a fever and a sore throat. It then quickly escalates to vomiting and internal bleeding. The disease is spread through contact with bodily fluid and indirect contact with environments contaminated with ebola-infected fluids.