Following the first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Liberia on Monday, March 16, President George Weah announced that all foreign travelers arriving from countries with more than 200 confirmed cases of the virus will be prohibited from entering the country to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
In addition, the Ministry of Education has ordered for all schools nationwide, including universities, to suspend classes for one week starting from Tuesday, March 17. Authorities have urged the people to minimise travel within Liberia, avoid large gatherings, and observe good personal hygiene. President Weah added that the COVID-19 outbreak remains the greatest threat to the health of Liberians since the Ebola epidemic between 2014 and 2016.
Local media outlets reported that Liberia's second case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Tuesday, March 17. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.