Nigeria reactivates 2014 strategies to curtail Ebola spread

•We won’t allow its importation to the country —Health minister •Detecting machines reinstated at airports •WHO may use new vaccines in Congo

FOLLOWING the resurgence of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria has activated all measures adopted in 2014 to curtail the spread of the virus.

Speaking during his visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Monday, Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, asked Nigerians not to panic, adding that the Federal Government remained committed to ensuring that the virus was not imported to the country.

As part of the measures being put in place, the minister was at the airport to inspect thermal screening machines located at the port health stand.

Adewole recalled that the country began health screening at the airports during the Ebola crisis of 2014, adding that “we want to assure Nigerians that we have never stopped screening people, it has been going on at the international wing of all the airports in the country, although passengers may not have noticed it.

“There is no reason to panic, everything is under control. If there is the need to screen local passengers, we would do that, but for now, we are concentrating on passengers on international  travels.”

The minister also asked people to report any signs or symptoms of fever to the nearest health facility.

Speaking earlier, airport manager, Alhaji Sani Muhammed, assured the minister of the readiness of all the staff to work together in ensuring that Ebola did not come in the country, while the Director, Port Health Services, Dr Hassan Garba, said the installed sophisticated thermal camera at the airport was capable of detecting anyone with the symptom on arrival.

Also, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), in a statement by the acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, in Lagos, said adequate measures had been put in place to checkmate recurrence of any such outbreak in Nigeria.

Speaking further, she stressed that all measures adopted in 2014 to curtail the dreaded virus, which were suspended, had been re-activated.

According to her, the screening points and detecting machines had been fully re-instated at the airports, adding that the authority was also collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health, through the Port Health Service, to activate the Ebola awareness and sensitisation campaign again.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO), on Monday, said its experts were not yet decided on the use of newly-developed vaccines to contain the outbreak of Ebola in Congo.

A second case of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo was confirmed by the WHO on Sunday, after an outbreak of 17 other suspected cases, with three people so far reported dead among the 19 suspected and confirmed cases.

A taxi driver was the second person to die of the virus in Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.

A spokesman for the Geneva-based United Nations (UN) health agency told Reuters that WHO was working with specialists to conduct an epidemiological investigation “to better understand the extent of the current outbreak” and to establish who is at risk of becoming infected with Ebola.

The GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday that some 300,000 emergency doses of Ebola vaccine developed by Merck could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak, but it would be up to WHO and others to determine “if and when deployment of vaccine into this outbreak is warranted.”

About Online Editor 2015 Articles
Seyi Gesinde, Online Editor, Tribune Online, the online publication of African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) PLC.