Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities replace state of emergency with COVID-19 national health emergency from July 23. International flights to Liberia ongoing.

  • Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 12:49 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 12 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Liberia have stated that the country's state of emergency has not been renewed following its expiration July 21. However, the Ministry of Health enacted revised guidelines as part of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) national health emergency from July 23. Under the guidelines, all persons must abide by public health directives, including the wearing of facemasks in all public places. Social distancing of approximately 1 metre (3 feet) must also be followed. All operating businesses and services must abide by these guidelines; however, bars and nightclubs will remain closed until further notice. Other businesses involved in the trade of alcohol will close at 2100. Restrictions on capacity are in place for banks, supermarkets, and public transport.

The status of other restrictions, such as curfews and quarantine measures, is currently unclear following the expiration of the state of emergency. As it stands, restrictions still in place include:

 

  • Montserrado and Margibi counties remain under quarantine as a single unit.

 

  • All land borders will remain closed until further notice.

 

  • Movement between counties that have not reported COVID-19 cases remains restricted.

 

  • Churches and mosques can open, operating at 25-percent capacity.

 

  • Officials have permitted the movement of essential staff and products.

 


International commercial flights to Liberia have resumed following the arrival at Roberts International Airport (ROB) of a commercial aircraft traveling from Brussels, Belgium, June 29. All arriving passengers will be screened for symptoms. Passengers without a test from the point of departure will face tests at ROB. Authorities could introduce additional preventative measures in the coming days and weeks, depending on virus activity.

Background and Analysis
The action to end the country's state of emergency comes likely as a result of domestic pressure rather than an improvement in the health environment. Cases of the disease continue to be reported across Liberia. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Confirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm non-emergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent hand-washing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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