9 August 2014

Nigeria: Lagos Overwhelmed, Nigeria Asks for Ebola Outbreak Help

Photo: Premium Times
Ebola Virus.

Nigeria has appealed for volunteers to stop Ebola's spreading. On Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a national emergency over Ebola, which has so far claimed two lives there.

Authorities in Lagos, home to 20 million and the largest city in Africa's most populous country, have said they are facing a shortage of medical personnel. Lagos has nine confirmed Ebola cases, including two deaths.

"I won't lie about that," Lagos health commissioner Jide Idris said about the staff shortage Saturday.

Declaring Ebola a national emergency on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerians to avoid gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, he warned against moving the corpses of people who had died from Ebola.

"Religious and political groups, spiritual healing centers, families, associations and other bodies should ... discourage gatherings and activities that may unwittingly promote close contact with infected persons or place others at risk," Jonathan's office said.

Jonathan approved 1.9 billion naira ($11.7 million, nine million euros) in funding to isolate patients, screen the country's borders, and trace those exposed to the disease. Officials planned to meet in Abuja on Monday to discuss strategies to help curb the spread of Ebola. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have also declared states of emergency.

Global health emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Ebola a global emergency. The current outbreak, which investigators believe began in February in Guinea, is the largest and longest ever recorded.

The European Commission announced that it was providing eight million euros to help humanitarian groups and United Nations agencies active in West Africa. The new pledge brings the total amount of European Union aid targeting the current epidemic to 11.9 million euros.

The outbreak has killed 961 people, about 50 percent of those infected. Ebola, which transmits through bodily fluids and causes hemorrhaging, has no cure and no vaccine. A trial drug being administered to two Americans infected in Liberia has shown some positive early results.

The virus, first identified in 1976, has an overall a fatality rate of 90 percent. More than 20 outbreaks have occurred in central and eastern Africa; the number of cases in the West represents a first.

The WHO did not call for travel restrictions, but urged airlines to take precautions. The organization asked countries to prepare to "detect, investigate and manage" Ebola cases if they should arise.

India has alerted airports and opened a helpline as part of measures to tackle any potential outbreak of Ebola in the country. The country has nearly 45,000 nationals living in the four Ebola-affected West African nations, and health officials have expressed fears that some of them could return infected if the outbreak worsens.

 - Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP

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