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Liberia bans travel from affected countries after 1st virus case

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FILE PHOTO: Motorcycle taxis, called kekeh in Liberia, stand in line waiting to refuel at gas station amid shortages of supplies in Monrovia, Liberia January 30, 2020. REUTERS/ James Giahyue/File Photo

Liberian President George Weah on Monday said that all travel from countries with over 200 coronavirus cases would be banned after the West African state recorded its first infection.

The impoverished country on Monday announced that head of its Environmental Protection Agency, who recently returned to Liberia from Switzerland, had tested positive for the virus.

Following the confirmation, Weah gave a televised address in which he said: “all travels from all countries” with over 200 cases were henceforth banned.

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“All citizens or residents are urged to avoid public gatherings and large crowds,” he said, adding that people should also minimise travel within Liberia.

Liberia is still recovering from a deadly Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016 that claimed over 4,800 lives.

On Monday, Weah said that the spread of coronavirus “represents the greatest threat to the health and the wellbeing of the people of Liberia since the Ebola epidemic”.

He urged regular hand washing and avoiding unnecessary physical contact with strangers.

“There should be no handshaking whatsoever. Use a nod of the head for greeting each other,” the footballer-turned-president said.

Travellers caught bypassing mandatory health screenings will also be arrested and placed in compulsory quarantine, he said.

Weah added that “an intensive tracing exercise” was underway to identify people with whom the coronavirus patient had come into contact.

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