Federal government orders officials to step up emergency surveillance activities at all airports and land borders in the country. This, according to the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, is to keep Nigerians safe.
Adewole was briefing State House reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said the council was greatly concerned about the new outbreak of Ebola in Congo, adding that an emergency operation centre would be set up in Nigeria. The minister said passagers from Congo and other neighbouring nations would be screened so that Nigeria would not be caught unawares.
“Of course, of great concern to the Federal Executive Council is the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As you might be aware, over the last one month, DRC recorded 19 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever and lost 16 of the cases.
“But what is also particularly important was that last week, blood samples from five patients in the DRC, particularly in a particular district in DRC, two of the five cases, Ebola were actually confirmed.
“And, FEC has now directed the Federal Ministry of Health to step up emergency surveillance activities at all land and airport borders so that we can actually keep Nigerians safe.
“What we will do is to set up an emergency operation center which will be chaired by Dr. Babasanya who actually led our efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014.
“Not only that, we will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from DRC and neigbouring countries. We will also ensure we step up all activities screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares,” he stated.
He said the Nigerian Center for Disease Control would also consider sending some team to Congo “as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak.”
“Essentially, that implies that the emergency operating center would be stood down, but that instead of meeting everyday throughout the country, they’ll now meet once a week. They’ll still continue surveillance so that if there are cases anywhere in the country, we can quickly detect and treat it appropriately,” he explained.
How Do You Get Ebola?
Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes fever, body aches, and diarrhea, and sometimes bleeding inside and outside the body. As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.
The West African Ebola virus epidemic was the most widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease in history—causing major loss of life and socioeconomic disruption in the region, mainly in the countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Initial symptoms of Ebola viral disease include fever, headache, muscle pain and chills. Later, a person may experience internal bleeding resulting in vomiting or coughing blood, coughing up blood, eye redness, headache, mental confusion, red spots on skin, or sore throat.
Ebola isn’t as contagious as more common viruses like colds, influenza, or measles. It spreads to people by contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, like a monkey, chimp, or fruit bat. Then it moves from person to person the same way. Those who care for a sick person or bury someone who has died from the disease often get it.
To prevent Ebola infection, avoid contact with bats and non-human primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals. Avoid facilities in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated.
Adewole assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was concerned about the outbreak and would do everything possible to keep the country safe. The minister said the council declared the emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak over.