Confusion as Liberian capital starts lockdown

MONROVIA, Liberia – Traffic was circulating and people thronged the streets in parts of Liberia's capital Monrovia on Saturday, April 11, on the first day of a lockdown introduced to curb coronavirus. 

George Weah, the president of the West African state, has imposed a two-week lockdown for the city, after warning that the country faces its biggest threat since the devastating Ebola outbreak.

But despite the stay-at-home order coming into effect on Saturday, several of the capital city's suburbs were alive with activity in the morning, according to an Agence France Presse (AFP) journalist.  (READ: Why Africa's coronavirus outbreak appears slower than anticipated)

In the eastern suburb of Paynesville, police officers were instructing people to return to their homes. One driver told a police officer he thought he could be on the roads until 3:00 p.m.

Confusion about the lockdown appears to stem from Weah's speech announcing anti-virus measures on Wednesday. 

After declaring the lockdown, the footballer-turned-president said that essential staff in businesses such as banks and supermarkets would be allowed to travel to and from work, but that these businesses had to close by three in the afternoon.

"It seems like some Liberians did not understand the president clearly," said a spokesman for Weah.

He added that the government was "sensitizing the population" to the lockdown requirements and that the "security forces will do what they ought to do."

Liberia has recorded 37 cases of novel coronavirus to date, with 5 fatalities.  

But there are concerns that the poor country of some 4.8 million people is particularly exposed to an outbreak. 

Liberia was badly hit during the West Africa's 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4,800 people in the country. 

Hit by back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003, Liberia also suffers economic woes including rampant inflation and fuel shortages. – Rappler.com