Via the Daily Observer, an editorial: Prevention Is Better Than Closure. Excerpt:
The Guinean Ambassador to Liberia, Elhaji Abdoulaye Doré, has appealed to neighboring countries not to close the border with his country in face of the Ebola outbreak. He has rather suggested that serious preventive measures be taken to halt or minimize the spread of the deadly disease. Senegal closed its southeastern border with Guinea.
Following our publication of Observer Senior Reporter C.Y. Kwanu’s story on the Ambassador’s concern, the Daily Observer immediately contacted Liberia’s Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, and Immigration Commissioner Lemuel Reeves, for their reaction to the Guinean envoy’s plea.
Both the Health Minister and the Immigration Commissioner readily concurred. Dr. Gwenigale referred to the International Health Regulation that preceded the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO). That Regulation advised against border closures in the event of a disease outbreak. At WHO’s establishment in 1948, where Liberian was represented by its first Public Health Director General, Dr. Joseph N. Togba, the WHO confirmed that Regulation.
Dr. Gwenigale fears that should Liberia close its border with Guinea or any other neighboring nation, “people will start dying in the bush because there are too many crossing points.”
He observed that many Guineans and Liberians cross the border daily to work on each other’s farms.
Commissioner Reeves told the Daily Observer that from Grand Cape Mount to Maryland County there were 176 known border points, only 35 of which, until recently, were manned by Liberian Immigration officers. Now the number of patrolled border points has increased to 45. Mathematically, that leaves 131 border points unchecked.
He fears that if the borders are closed, people would begin using unofficial routes along our porous borders, hampering the Health Ministry's ability to monitor and regulate possibly infected persons.