President Sirleaf Declares 90-Day State of Emergency, As Governments Steps up the Fight against the Spread of the Ebola Virus Disease

Wednesday, 6th August 2014

Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a 90-day State of Emergency throughout Liberia as government steps up its fight to restrain the spread of the lethal Ebola virus disease which has now spread to eight of the country’s 15 counties.


“By the virtue of the powers vested in me as President of the Republic of Liberia, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, and in keeping with Article 86(a) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, hereby declare a State of Emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia effective as of August 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days,” the Liberian leader, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia announced, adding further, “Under this State of Emergency, the Government will institute extraordinary measures, including, if need be, the suspensions of certain rights and privileges.”


According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made this rare Declaration when she addressed the Nation late Wednesday evening, August 6, 2014, from the studios of the state broadcaster, the Liberia Broadcasting System, and the Renaissance Communications Incorporated, both in Paynesville City.


As mandated by the Constitution, the Liberian leader is expected to immediately forward this Declaration of the State of Emergency to the National Legislature, accompanied by an explanation of the facts and circumstances leading to the Declaration.


President Sirleaf, who is also chair of the National Task Force on Ebola, addressing the Nation said the deadly Ebola virus now poses serious risks to the health, safety, security and welfare of the nation and beyond the public health risk, the disease is now undermining the economic stability of the country to the tone of millions of dollars in lost revenue, productivity and economic activity.


Liberia is among three countries in the Mano River Union experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of the virus, the larger ever since this virus was first discovered.


“The heath care system in the county is now under immense strain and the Ebola epidemic is having a chilling effect on the overall health care delivery,” the Liberian leader emphasized, explaining further, “Out of fear of being infected with the disease, health care practitioners are afraid to accept new patients, especially in community clinics all across the country. Consequently, many common diseases which are especially prevalent during the rainy season, such as malaria, typhoid and common cold, are going untreated and may lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths.”


She pointed out that the aggregate number of cases confirmed, probable and suspected in Liberia has now exceeded 500 with about 271 cumulative deaths with 32 deaths among health care workers; noting that the death rate among citizens, especially among health workers is alarming.


On measures the Government has taken so far to respond to the crisis, President Sirleaf instructed all non-essential government staff to stay home for 30 days, ordered the closure of schools, and authorized the fumigation of all public buildings, shut down markets in affected areas and have restricted movement in others, improved response time and contact tracking as well as begun coordinating with regional and international partners.


“Despite these and other continuing efforts, the threat continues to grow,” she pointed out, adding that ignorance, poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease especially in the counties. “The actions allowed by statues under the Public Health Law are no longer adequate to deal with the Ebola epidemic in as comprehensive and holistic as the outbreak requires,” she noted.


“The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry,” President Sirleaf informed the nation, stressing that the Ebola virus disease, the ramifications and consequences thereof, now constitute an unrest affecting the existence, security, and well-being of the Republic amounting to a clear and present danger. “The Government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people.”