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Liberia declares a state of emergency, as three-week national quarantine begins today

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Liberia declares a state of emergency, as three-week national quarantine begins today

Ebola: Liberia Declares State of Emergency Over Virus | Time

Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo—EPA

A three-week national quarantine will begin today in Liberia after President George Weah declared a national state of emergency earlier this week.

The national quarantine, which includes a two-week stay-at-home order for residents of four major counties—approximately 40% of Liberia’s population—was called in response to the emerging threat of COVID-19 in West Africa. As of Wednesday, Liberia had recorded several dozen cases and four deaths from the virus.

While travel between counties will be highly restricted, households under the stay-at-home mandate will be allowed one hour per week to leave their homes to purchase food and basic necessities. In response to criticism that many Liberians may violate the quarantine if food and water are lacking, Weah is expected to consider government provision of basic supplies.

However, implementing rations will likely present a challenge, as Liberia, one of the world’s poorest countries, receives little foreign aid and has been battling a weak economy for years.

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While COVID-19 currently remains in the nascent stages in Liberia, the uptick in cases this week suggests that the virus could strain the country’s fragile economy and healthcare system in the coming weeks. The three-week quarantine could potentially prevent a national crisis, but the success of the response is contingent upon Liberians actually staying home. The limited government incentives may not be convincing enough.

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