Monrovia, Liberia – “Please open up!” blared a man’s voice through a megaphone as a government patrol vehicle stopped next to a tightly-knit group of women.

“Wash your hands!”


The women, most of them vendors at the Waterside market in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, momentarily dispersed. They have been unable to trade after municipal authorities last week demolished their stalls in a bid to reduce overcrowding and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“They told us they would close the market and we agreed,” Fatumata Kaba, 33, said on Thursday. “We don’t want to be affected by the virus and bring it home to our children,” added the single mother of seven, who until last week earned living selling slippers and sunglasses.

“In other countries where

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