“No doubt the Ebola virus is a national health problem,” Sirleaf said. “It attacks our way of life, with serious economic and social consequences. As such we are compelled to bring the totality of our national resolve to fight this scourge.”
Can this fight be successful? A map of the terrain makes the going look pretty rough. Writ large: Liberia’s porous borders are less like Cold War Berlin than present-day Texas.
Some of these ports of entry will remain open, including two airports. Officials will be testing for Ebola at these locations, Sirleaf said.
But executing her orders, which include closing markets and schools, putting nonessential government staff on a month’s mandatory leave and establishing a mandatory disinfection holiday, won’t be easy.
“Ebola took root in Guinea roughly five months ago and spread quickly across West Africa’s porous borders to neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the Wall Street Journal explained. Unfortunately, “Johnson’s moves will be difficult to enforce in a country where even many government workers haven’t accepted the existence or epidemiology of the virus as scientific fact.”
Meanwhile, Liberia’s poor infrastructure doesn’t prevent it from being a hub of human trafficking and illicit drug smuggling, according to the CIA. It also hosts tens of thousands of refugees.
As the Voice of America explained: “For many, that border is just an arbitrary line separating communities that share family ties and speak the same language.”
An arbitrary line in a time of contagion doesn’t inspire confidence.