-Tested Positive For Coronavirus; Subsequently Suspended By President Weah
Nathaniel Blama, the suspended Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who was confirmed positive of the coronavirus on Monday March 16, 2020 has received what pundits described as ‘double blow’.
Mr. Blama was confirmed as the first patient of the coronavirus on March 16, 2020 after it was alleged that he refused to be quarantined and to follow protocols setup by health authorities at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) upon his return from the Switzerland.
Following the revelation ofBlama’s refusal and subsequent confirmation of the virus in Liberia, President George Weah held a nationwide address.
EPA Defends Boss With COVID-19
But after the president made the announcement, his office immediately released a statement on its official website, apparently in defense of Mr. Blama. It appears the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defended its boss after the speech of President George Weah on Monday. The post saidthe president was ‘misinformed’ and Nathaniel T. Blama was a law abiding citizen.
“The president was probably misinformed. It is our hope that the correct information will be put out there,” the post which was later removed from theEPA social media page said.
The statement further added: “Dr. Nathaniel T. Blama, Sr., went through the regular screening at the RIA along with other government officials (whom the statement did not name any of them) to be identified.”
The statement continued that he voluntarily requested additional testing knowing he was from Switzerland. The Test came out positive and he went into self-quarantined and later drove himself to a government quarantine testing center.
The EPA statement continued: “The information given to the president is incorrect. Dr. Blama is law abiding and if he had voluntarily not asked for additional testing, no one would have known he is positive. He informed his entire staff about the result. It is important to note that he drove himself to the treatment center. Photos circulated were shared by himself to his staff that he is positive.”
The statement was alleged to have been posted by the EPA’s Communication Specialist, madam Danise Love Dennis.
President Weah Suspends EPA Boss:
With this, many saw it as an affront to the presidency. So, President George Manneh Weah Monday March 16, 2020 suspended him for time indefinite. “The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Nathaniel Blama, for repeatedly violating prescribed health protocols and endangering public health,” it said.
It can be recalled that the EPA boss refused to adhere to the established health protocols set up at the Roberts International Airport to prevent the transmission of the Coronavirus disease.
Also, following the arrival of medical staff at his residence to take him for treatment, he again declined to board an ambulance, opting instead to follow the team with his private vehicle which is further violation of public health measures.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the President strongly warned all officials of government in particular and members of the general public to strictly abide by the directives of health officials as the country strive to contain the coronavirus.
The President reiterated his call to all citizens and residents to comply with the directives of the health authorities in order for Liberia to contain the scourge.
He said “together we fought Ebola, and together we will fight the coronavirus”.
EPA Suspends Communications Specialist
On the same day, his suspension was followedMonday March 16, 2020, the EPA suspended Madam Danise Love Dennis, media and communications specialist of the agency for time indefinite.
According to a release, she was suspended for posting statement on the EPA Facebook Page without authorization.
The EPA said Madam Dannis’ statement seeks to contradict statement made by Excellency Dr. George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and the official position of the Government of Liberia.
She was mandated by the Agency to turn over all of the EPA’s property (ies) in her possession to the Human Resource Office.
Mayor Koijee Distances Himself from Arriving in LiberiaWith Nathaniel Blama On March 13, 2020
In a related development, Mayor Jefferson Koijee has denied arriving in Liberia with Mr. Nathaniel Blama, the first confirmed person of the coronavirus in Liberia.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday March 17, 2020, Mayor Koijee said he travelled with Mr. Blama to Europe on February 16, 2020 and he (Koijee) returned to Liberia on February 22, 2020; while Mr. Blama travelled to Switzerland.
“I arrived in Liberia on February 22, 2020 and I was tested, and followed all health protocols. Yes, we travelled together and I returned after one week and he travelled to Switzerland and arrived on March 13, 2020,” Mayor Koijee clarified.