Beyond the legal requirements of consultations with the leadership of the Legislature and others set out for the President, declaring a State of Emergency, as has been done should further awaken the nation that we are confronting a threat of the gravest proportions. This dreadful Ebola virus which has already claimed the lives of many of our citizens and friends, and continues to threaten to do so, presents us with a clear and present danger.
We enter into a critical stage in our combat against the Ebola Outbreak. The full machinery of the government is dedicated to tackling this virus. Over the next few days, the deployment of security personnel as part of Operation White Shield will be completed, and the increase in emergency healthcare support to affected areas, including Lofa, Bong, Cape Mount and Bomi counties will begin.
Training, and in many cases retraining of medical staffs and healthcare workers have been ongoing. The JFK completed their training on yesterday and will reopen its doors beginning with the Emergency and the OBGYN sections today. The hospital will become fully operational by the weekend. Similar training began at the Redemption Hospital on yesterday after decontamination and fumigation of the facility. Redemption will open its doors on tomorrow beginning with the Out-Patient-Department, OBGYN and the Emergency sections. The Redemption Hospital is expected to become fully operational by Monday.
At the ELWA Hospital, decontamination and fumigation began on yesterday. Training for healthcare workers and medical staffs will commence on today. The doors of the ELWA Hospital are expected to be reopened by Monday. Similar training and detailed procedures to limit the risks of exposure of healthcare workers are ongoing across the country and have been completed in various clinics and community health centers. These safety measures and protocols will be monitored and supervised by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council.
The 80-bed Ebola Treatment Facility at ELWA will be completed in a week. A team of Ugandan healthcare workers, including 2 doctors are in the country, courtesy of the WHO, to partner and train Liberians who are managing the ELWA Treatment Center with support from the MSF and the WHO.
The Command and Response Control Center is relocated to the facilities of the General Services Agency. A call center has been activated. While testing is ongoing, recruitment and training begins today. The Call Center will become fully operational by Friday. We are grateful to all those who have volunteered and Cellcom for providing the capacity for these expanded services.
In and around Monrovia, the Ministry of Health is positioning itself to respond to emergencies. A special team is being situated at the Redemption Hospital to respond to emergencies from the Bushrod Island Areas. A similar team is being positioned at the JFK to respond to emergencies from the Sinkor areas. A third team will be positioned at the JDJ Hospital to respond to emergencies from the Jacob Town/ Gardnersville areas. These teams will be expanded as needed and required.
As promised and in keeping with the orders of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberian Army has launched Operation White Shield. Under this operation, the military will establish and man checkpoints beginning in Lofa, Bong, Bomi and Cape Mount and will extend into and beyond as required to quarantine affected areas and restrict movements, as well as improve identification, tracing and maintaining medical observation and surveillance of suspected individuals. These checkpoints are already being established and will include locations such as the St. Paul Bridge, Bo Waterside, Clay and Po River. White Shield will become fully operational by Friday.
At the same time, unless it is absolutely necessary, individuals in unaffected counties are strongly advised to remain in their counties, and to continue to take the necessary preventive measures announced by the health experts.
At the Roberts International Airport, a mandatory and rigorous screening and monitoring regime is in place with support from the Center for Disease Control. The methods will be reviewed every 36 to 48 hours with a view of upgrading these measures as may be required.
This is why the Government of Liberia regrets that British Airways has suspended flights to and from Liberia until the end of August. However, we fully understand that international airlines must keep the safety of customers and crew as their highest priority as we continue to work around the clock with our international partners to ensure all our key international ports of entry are secure from any transfer of Ebola, both incoming and outgoing. We will continue to engage openly and positively with regional and international carriers so that flights can be resumed as soon as possible.
Deliberately and methodically, the Government is working with our international partners to contain the outbreak and treat the sick. However, conforming to our worst fears, the infection figures are likely to rise before they begin to level off and fall. In the meantime, the nature of international support will also change. The World Bank and the African Development Bank have pledged $260 million for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to tackle Ebola, and the United Nations WHO has already announced packages of help and measures to support us here in Liberia.
The Government of the United States has upped their packages of assistance and support to the three countries through the USAID to over 7 million with additional support to the Armed Forces of Liberia which also facilitated the deployment of the army under Operation White Shield. Also as part of these measures, non-essential foreign officials and residents could leave the country, and in many of such instances, are being replaced by medically-trained personnel who can help us tackle the outbreak. We welcome these medical support and resources.
The Government of Liberia is aware of a partially successful experimental treatment using a serum on two American citizens stricken with Ebola. We fully appreciate that this treatment had not been tested previously on humans. However, we are not averse to working with our international partners to explore the viability of in-country clinical trials of this, or similar treatments, in the very near future. Given the seriousness of the Ebola outbreak, we are keeping all options open. We call for the international medical community to continue to work with the affected countries in West Africa to ensure the best possible care reaches our most vulnerable citizens.
We welcome the call of president Obama for a combined global effort to combat the spread of Ebola. The Liberian Government also recognizes that we will only be successful if we work with our international partners in strengthening our public health infrastructure, and deploying as many specialist health care workers on the ground as possible. President Obama rightly recognizes that our work is also about fighting misinformation as it is the disease itself. That is why we continue our sensitization programs throughout the country, to ensure the fundamental truths about this disease reach all communities.
We are in a critical moment in fighting this disease but the Government now has the necessary measures in place, and we are receiving the help and support from our international partners and allies to stop its spread. Now we need you – as we say here, each and every one of you – to work with the government, with healthcare workers, and with our partners. We need all of you to remain vigilant, and to follow the safety instructions and preventive guidelines. If we do these things, we believe we will soon have the outbreak under control, and be able to effectively treat all those affected by the disease.
Please do not be afraid to report anyone with the symptoms. You will be saving their life and yours.
Finally, my fellow Liberians: we will win this fight. We have always overcome our difficulties, and will do so again. Stay safe.