Daily Trust (Abuja)

12 August 2014

Nigeria: Ebola - President Jonathan, Governors to Meet in Abuja

President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will meet tomorrow with the 36 state governors and their commissioners for health to discuss how to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.

The president said this yesterday in Abuja at the interfaith conference convened by the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III and John Cardinal Onaiyekan.

The president assured that the Federal Govern-ment would do everything possible to contain the Ebola virus, especially by assisting states that lack the capacity to manage the containment.

"As a government, we promise we'll do every-thing possible to contain Ebola. We're doing our best. On Wednesday, I'm going to meet with all the governors of the states, they'll come with their commissioners for health, and we must make sure that every state is prepared. Where they (states) lack, the federal government will support the states to make sure that they have what it takes to contain Ebola virus", he said.

The president pleaded that for now, burial ceremonies should be stopped in the country for now, saying anybody who died should be buried where he/she died. He said he recently learnt from the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Mrs. Marget Chan, that 60 percent of the spread of Ebola virus comes from burial.

Jonathan, who cautioned against reckless sharing of food and drinks and unnecessary body contacts, also appealed to spiritual healing homes to manage their activities professionally.

He quoted the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Mrs. Marget Chan as saying that the spread of Ebola was 60 percent through burials.

"We're pleading that our people who believe in some kind of ceremonies and so on, this is not the best period for those ceremonies. If somebody dies now, that person should be buried where he died. When we get over this, you can exhume the body if you want, the government will provide the medical examiner that will help you exhume the body for you to go and bury the way you want," Jonathan promised.

"When the Director General of WHO told me 60 per cent of the spread of Ebola was through burials, we must advise our people not to over celebrate burials now. Sawyer who brought this Ebola to Nigeria also contracted it because his sister died of Ebola and he went for the burial and he participated in a way that he became a victim."

He also urged "religious leaders that most of the religious things we do, the traditional things we do, sharing of food and sharing of drinks, unnecessary body contacts, spiritual healing homes within this period let us manage it professionally."

The president also urged religious leaders in the country to educate their adherents on Ebola virus.

"It's unfortunate that one mad man brought Ebola to us, but we have to contain it. But this is a good forum we'll use to also plead with our religious leaders because people listen to you more than they listen to politicians. So, in our various preaching in the mosques in the church, we should communicate clearly. I've been having discussions with people outside and within the country since this incident happened," he said.

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