Liberia: It is barely three months since citizens were seen all around, at homes, in the streets and at every corner wearing their nose masks and following every health protocol and guideline put in place by the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) amid the reoccurrence of the coronavirus pandemic.
There were rigorous actions taking by the joint security to include Officers of Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Service and the Monrovia City Police in making sure that citizens adhere to every given protocol especially the wearing of nose masks and avoiding large gatherings.
Moreover, Police officers were seen with rattans and batons in their hands flogging violators and imposing special punishment on them ranging from fines and going to jail.
Businesses, churches, and mosques were not also allowed to operate to full capacity as the government tried to curb the spread of the pandemic. On the contrary, it seems as if citizens had now realized the significance of wearing their nose masks and keeping social distance.
The Stage Media has observed that complacency has started to creep in as many citizens are now seen freely walking about their normal businesses without wearing their nose masks. Large gatherings at entertainment centers, churches, mosques, and sports bars have all been restored despite no permission from the Ministry of Health and NPHIL to declare the virus over.
Police officers themselves are no longer carrying out the operation “force to wear nose masks”.
But what happened? Why citizens are so complacent about the virus now and why wearing nose masks is no longer mandatory?
Well, TSM has been closely following the situation and over the weekend spoke with several citizens including motorcyclists as well as businessmen and women and asked them specifically as to why they’ve slowed down in wearing their nose masks.
And first, we made a stop at the famous Boulevard Junction and spoke with a lady who sells rice bread and cold juice, and she told TSM that the virus has now subsided and that there is no need to wear nose masks like before.
Ma Fatu Kollie as she is called also said that Police Officers themselves are getting tired of telling citizens to wear their masks. She continued that despite no public pronouncement being made by the government, as to whether the virus is over, she believes in God and trusts that the virus has been defeated.
“Even the Police people themselves are getting weak to tell people one thing over and over, even though they have not informed us that the virus is over, but I know that God already defeated this virus.”
She then called on all churchgoers as well as Muslims to continue to pray to God and trust that this virus will be eliminated.
Another market woman, Marie Togba who sells body crème and cosmetics also told our microphone that “it is only God and his grace that has gotten us to where we are. ( Interm of the decrease in the cases). She said why is it true that some citizens are no longer wearing the masks, there is no need to be happy and complacent as the virus could still come back.
Marie also called on all citizens to continue to mask up and wait on the relevant authority for the official announcement, adding that there could still be an increase in the cases if we forget about wearing our nose masks.
“We shouldn’t do our own thing, let us wait for the government to say stop before we stopped, because you never can tell if we all forget about the masks business and think that the virus finishes, we could experience the fourth wave”
Another violator, Mohammed Massallay who is a tricyclist, vehemently told us that despite no public pronouncement being made, he believes that Liberians have won the fight against covid-19.
It can be recalled that the Health authorities mandated all motorcyclists, tricyclists as well as car owners to reduce the number of passengers they carry on a daily basis amid the increase in the cases.
But when Mohammed was quizzed on this, he said despite government pronouncement, he has still been carrying his normal passengers in his kehkeh (Tricycle).
While at the same time, a taxi driver Mr. George Tengbeh told our microphone that he no longer bother people who enter his car without wearing nose masks, stating that he believes the virus has been eradicated.
Mr. Tengbeh further that despite carrying three passengers in the back seat, he believes the wearing of nose masks is no longer mandatory. He continued that police officers no longer checked in cars like they used to do.
From the look of things, it is glaring that citizens are indeed complacent when it comes to the existence of the virus and so very few people are still constantly wearing their nose masks while the majority continue to ignore the government’s order.
But what has the government said about or against those who are no longer wearing their nose masks?
Well, the Minister of Health at a regular Ministry of Information Cultural and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing Thursday told Liberians to continue to mask up as the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute are doing everything possible to ensure that the virus is eradicated.
Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah also used the occasion to call on citizens to make themselves available for the vaccines, noting that there are huge risks of not taking the vaccines than just wearing the nose masks. She clarified the misinformation going about in the public that the virus is no longer in Liberia, emphasizing that Montserrado County remains the highly affected county in Liberia.
In remarks, the spokesman of the Liberia National Police Mr. Moses Carter reiterated that the wearing of nose masks remains a major priority of all citizens and that the LNP should remain focus and rigorous in enforcing the masks mandate.
Mr. Carter in a conversation via telephone told us that police officers are still carrying out their duties when it comes to the wearing of the masks. The spokesperson of the LNP further that Liberians should know that they don’t need to be told to wear nose masks, citing that everyone should know the importance of avoiding social distance, and wearing their masks.
He then called on officers of the LNP to continue to embarrass any violator (s) and provide punishment for them in accordance with the law of Liberia.
The Police Spokesman said it is of no surprise to see citizens freely walking about without following various health protocols as most of them are of the opinion that the virus is no longer exists in the country.