The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has directed the Ministry of Health in Nigeria to step up surveillance at the nation’s borders, following new reports of an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Council’s directive was disclosed at a State House briefing by Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole after a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control also announced that Nigeria would be placed at ‘moderate risk’ of Ebola outbreak as Guinea battles the contagion.
The NCDC made this known via its website, stating that the decision was based on the proximity of Guinea to Nigeria and other West African countries, as well as other indicators.
According to Guinea’s health ministry, the country has so far recorded up to 10 suspected cases of Ebola and five deaths. Since declaring the outbreak on Sunday, it has identified 115 contacts of the known cases in the southeastern city of Nzerekore and 10 in the capital Conakry,
Adewole said apart from the directive, which is intended to ” keep Nigerians safe”, the government will also establish an emergency operation centre to be headed by Dr Babasanya, who led Nigeria’s efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea during the 2014 outbreak.
“We will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from the DRC and neighbouring countries. We will also ensure we step up all activities, screening people coming in, so that we will not be caught unawares,” he said.
Adewole also disclosed that the Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was planning to send a team to the DRC to build capacity for managing the Ebola outbreak.
“We want to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government is concerned about the outbreak and will do everything possible to keep the country safe,” said Adewole.
Ivory Coast, Mali and Sierra Leone have also launched plans to reinforce border control in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Ebola In Nigeria
The first case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria was reported in 2014 after the index case a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, flew from Liberia to Lagos on July 20, 2014. Sawyer died at First Consultant Hospital, Obalende five days later.
In response, the Nigerian government observed all of Sawyer’s contacts for signs of infection and increased surveillance at all entry points to the country.
The virus brought in by Mr Sawyer resulted in 19 confirmed cases and 8 deaths.
To manage the crisis, the Federal Government under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan instituted border control measures among others. A sum of $11.5 million was made available to manage the outbreak. The Lagos State government spent an estimated N1 billion to contain the virus, even as the then governor of the state, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola co-ordinated the outbreak control activities.
The federal government also provided an additional $1.2 million while private sector players like the Dangote Foundation donated to Lagos state a sum of $1 million from the Dangote Foundation to augment its operational costs. The foundation also provided 12 units of thermal scanning systems for the four international airports in Nigeria.
On October 20, 2014, barely 2 months after the first case was reported, Nigeria was announced as Ebola-free by the WHO, following two incubation periods without any further reports of infection.
The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 per cent. Case fatality rates have varied from 25 per cent to 90 per cent in past outbreaks.”