Liberia continues to experience rapid growth in the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, but from a small base. The cases are concentrated in Montserrado county (which includes Monrovia) but incidences are now reported in all other counties as well. The first case was detected on March 16, 2020.
On March 21, 2020 the Liberian authorities issued a declaration designed to enforce severe social distancing, including: closure of all schools, night clubs, cinemas, beaches, spas, mosques and churches; banning of all street selling and gatherings of more than 10 people; limits on admittance to banks and restaurants to five customers kept six feet apart; Social distancing for health facilities and pharmacies (which remained open); mandatory washing with soap and clean water at all public and private establishments; and a hotline was established to report those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
On midnight April 10, Government announced and began enforcing a State of Emergency, which was subsequently approved by the Legislature as required in the Constitution. This was extended in early July, but with a downward adjustment in the curfew. Also mandated were the strict enforcement of wearing face masks in public, the observance of reasonable social distancing, and other approved health protocols, along with the re-opening of the international airport. The State of Emergency at mid-night on July 21, officially expired with no renewal. The immediate withdrawal of the military from various places of assignments across the country to the barracks was ordered by the President. The troops had been deployed across the country to assist with the rigid enforcement of the execution of the State of Emergency. With the expiration of the State of Emergency, Residents have been admonished to strictly adhere to the National Public Health Law and amended anti-COVID-19 protocols. The measures includes the continued closure of all night clubs and bars, Compulsory testing of outbound and inbound passengers using the international airport, the adaptation of a no face mask no service at all public places, and the increase in the admittance to banks service areas from five to ten with the observation of a three feet social distance. Meanwhile, public sector workers considered non-essential placed on administrative pay leave as a result of the outbreak, are yet to be recall to work. Line ministries and agencies are currently operation on their approved essential staff.
In accordance with pronouncements from the Ministry of Education, in-person classes for students from 6 – 11 grades have resumed at on schools. 12 graders who returned to classes in early August are currently sitting the regional West African high School Exams. Students below the 6th grade are required to complete sets of take-home exams in fulfillment of their academic curriculum for the school year readjusted to come to an end by mid-November. In light of the recent trends and the preventative measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Ministry of Education had announced full reopening of schools for in-person learning for all grades starting on January 4, 2021.
The International airport on July 28, resumed international flights with the expiration of the State of Emergency. Anti COVID-19 protocols and procedures have been put in place by the management of the airport in consultation with health authorities, including presenting the certificate of a negative test or undergoing a rapid test on arrival.Prior to departure, a traveler is required to undergo a test arranged by the Ministry of Health and present a negative test result to be admitted to the flight.
The Legislature has approved the request by the Executive to allocate US$25 million—to be supplemented by US$5 million of donor funds—for a World Food Programme-implemented food distribution to the most vulnerable citizens, and this program is now being implemented.
The World Bank approved about US$17 million of off-budget project funding for the health sector, of which US$7.50 million was new investment financed by the COVID-19 Fast Track Facility (March 23); and $9.5 million was temporarily diverted from existing projects (March 30). On July 28, 2020 the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved US$14 million direct budget support for Liberia as part of a multi-country COVID-19 response to help bolster the fight against the pandemic. The funding is expected to be tailored largely towards financing vulnerable female-headed household and school-going children. Other targeted beneficiaries include the business community and small and medium-size enterprises. Other donors are also contributing, but funding shortfalls remain.