Premium Times (Abuja)

3 August 2014

Nigeria: Ebola - Nigerian Government Rules Out Closure of Borders

Interior Minister said an isolated case is not enough to shut the nation's borders against its neighbours

The Federal Government said it would not close the nation's borders with its neighbouring countries over concerns of Ebola spread.

The Interior Minister, Abba Moro, who stated this while speaking with journalists on Friday, said the closure of borders is a decision only taken in extreme situations and after wide consultations.

A Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who suffered from the ailment died in Lagos last week shortly after he arrived in Nigeria.

The minister said such a single incident was not enough for Nigeria to shut its borders with its neighbours.

"Isolated incidents of the death of Patrick Sawyer on account of Ebola is not sufficient for this country to close its borders," Mr. Moro said.

"Closure of borders is an extreme situation that has its own wide range consequences and so unless it becomes absolutely necessary, we don't intend to close our borders as long as information comes to us indicates that Nigerian Medical workers and Nigerian Immigration Service and all other Health officials are striving to contend the situation, no need to close our borders."

Mr. Moro said it was regrettable that the disease which many Nigerians thought would never been found in the country, had finally come.

He however said the presidential committee set up to curtail the spread of the dreaded disease in the country, in which he is a member, had been working hard to ensure it does not spread.

He said, "I think the good news is that since the death of Patrick Sawyer from Liberia, on the account of Ebola virus, no other reported case has occurred and we are praying very fervently that by the expiration of the period of incubation which has been put between one week and three weeks and no such cases will be heard.

"I want to also say that in line with each proactive attitude to issues of emergencies like this, the Federal Government has put in place a presidential committee to address the issue of Ebola occurrence in Nigeria and I am happy to inform you that the Ministry of Interior is part of the Presidential committee, in which I am a member.

"We have been having meetings frequently to update ourselves on decisions that have been taken and one of the decisions that was taken in the committee is the establishment of screening centres, at our various Ports of entry including our land entry Ports, and this ports authority.

"Health officials, have been drafted to some of our ports of entry and the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, have directed its officers at the borders to ensure proper screening in alliance with port authority and health officials, because as you are all aware we are not sufficiently equipped to carry out screening but working in agreement with health officials and port authority. Hopefully, we will be able to come to terms with the incidence of Ebola."

He explained that the step was taken in other to have a multi-sectoral approach to the issue of Ebola in Nigeria. According to him, NIS had been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and officials of the World Health Organisation, WHO, on the matter "which we believe hopefully, that our efforts should be able to prevent further spread of this disease."

Mr. Moro said as a global player, Nigeria would not take a unilateral action by introducing certification to travelers.

He explained, "If you must introduce certification, it means that you must know what you are out for. You must know that, yes if you apply this, the person will be free of this.

"So, I think that the issue of certification will only come when everything about Ebola has been examined, vaccines identified for its eradication , cures identified for them, only on such circumstances even if am not a health expert, you can now say that lets acquire certification."

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