2 August 2014

West Africa: FG Bans Conveyance of Corpses From Ebola-Infected Countries

Photo: Boakai Fofana/allAfrica
On the day of a nationwide disinfection exercise, anti-Ebola campaigners hit various Liberian communities.

-Fashola canvasses closure of some borders as Anambra, Abia, Oyo assure virus not in their domain -Contacts already following up 70 person

The Federal Government has banned the conveyance of corpses from three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) are rampant.

Likewise, the Lagos State Government urged the federal government to consider the imperatives of closing some of the country's borders as part of the preventive measures fight the virus. This is as Port health workers commenced sensitisation on the dreaded virus at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Also, the Anambra State government has denied the presence of the virus in the State, pointing out that until necessary tests were conducted, it would be wrong to say the virus was in the state. Abia and Oyo states also expressed readiness to combat the virus and assured that there was so no case of the any infection in their states. Anambra said they took pre-emptive measures by quarantining family members of a corpse that was brought in from Liberia, including nurses in the hospital where the corpse was preserved in their morgue.

The Project Director of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi disclosed the federal government's decision to stop the conveyance of dead bodies into the country yesterday.

Nasidi stated this at a news conference he addressed alongside the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris and the Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina among others at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa.

Nasidi acknowledged that the conveyance of a corpse from Liberia through the Mohammed Murtala International Airport to a private mortuary in Anambra State had informed the federal government to issue an order, banning the transportation of dead bodies into the country from Ebola-infected countries.

At the conference, the project director explained that all the handlers of the corpse brought into the country from Liberia would be registered and tracked in order to prevent epidemics the deceased died of the virus.

He added that those who accompanied the corpse to Anambra State and the mortuary handlers "are already under quarantine in Anambra State. Our team in the state will today give us the statistics of those who came in contact with the corpse.

"The dead body came into the country through Air Gambia. It was received in Lagos, precisely on July 21. From there, it was transported by road. It was received in a private mortuary. "The federal government has issued a directive that we will henceforth not receive anybody or corpse from the West African coast especially from Liberia and others that were on red alert for Ebola virus.

"Mechanisms are in place to checkmate that. For instance, a plane was to come into the country with a corpse but the Port health rejected it. Our problem is the land border. But in order have effective monitoring, we held a meeting today and how it will be done was stated. We shall be giving update very soon. These countries will be notified through the diplomatic channels that they should not allow any transportation of any dead corpse into Nigeria.

Also, at a session with the journalists yesterday, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola urged the federal government to consider the imperatives of closing some of the country's borders.

He said:" The virus is no longer a local, but an international problem. This is because it is easily transmittable across the borders and boundaries. The federal team has been working with the state team.

"I think what the federal government need to do at this time is to consider the imperative of closing some of our borders. It is difficult to stop its epidemic. We must now choose the treaty obligations that we hold under the ECOWAS treaty to address the health issue.

"I think we should give it that attention. I think men and women who man our border posts-sea, air and land-especially the customs, now know that they are our first line of defense. "What happens going forward depends on how professionally our borders' officials act. It is prevention rather than calling the health professionals to quarantine people. That is really the strongest defence now against migration of the virus. We will continue to put out information about what the health risks are and the symptoms."

He justified the cremation of the Liberian Ebola victim; Mr. Patrick Sawyer, explaining that dead bodies "emit fluid. This showed that the cremation policy of the state is the best solution to deal with the issue.

"This is a health security and people must embrace contemporary hygiene standards. All the residents who had contacts with the dead Liberian have been tested and the result proved negative.

"But there is still risk because we heard a dead body was brought into the country from Liberia. This means there is still need for vigilance at our border posts. The officials at these places should act professionally and report every incident they suspect," the governor explained. At the conference with Nasidi, the health commissioner explained the significance of contact tracing, which he said, had ensured that all contacts exposed "to an Ebola patient, who develop fever receive care immediately and are separated from others to stop the spread of the virus." Idris, therefore, said the contact tracing team "is already following up 70 contacts of the EVD cases and linking them to clinical support when needed. The two suspects, who had fever, are under observation and so far have tested negative for the deadly virus.

"Suspect cases will continue to be monitored until the under of the incubation period of 21 days, from their exposure to the traveller, who had the virus," the commissioner said.

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