23 May 2017

Nigeria Tightens Borders Against Ebola Risk

A working group has been set up to assess the risk Ebola virus disease poses to Nigeria, in the wake of the confirmed outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo this month.

The Ebola Preparedness Working Group is to coordinate "immediate risk assessment of the situation in the DRC," the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

The working group will also coordinate stronger "prevention and preparedness for any potential introduction of the virus into Nigeria," said chief executive officer of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

"The risk of introduction of the Ebola virus into Nigeria is considered to be highest through its air and land borders," according to the centre.

In the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the virus was introduced into Nigeria after a Liberian American Patrick Sawyer-taken ill in Liberia-flew into the international airport at Lagos.

Port Health authorities will intensify "existing screen procedures" at all ports of entry-with first responder teams put on alert.

Ihekweazu spoke of increased focus on reinforcing principles of infection prevention and control to all healthcare workers across the country.

At least four people have been confirmed dead in the latest outbreak of the viral disease in the DRC.

Up to 362 people who may have had contact with the virus in the most affected regions of the DRC remain under "daily follow up for signs and symptoms of Ebola."

In a risk assessment, the WHO says risk is high across the DRC due to known impact of Ebola outbreaks, remoteness of the affected area, and limited access to health care including suboptimal surveillance.

At regional level, the risk is "moderate" because of the closeness of international borders and recent influx of international borders and the recent influx of refugees from Central African Republic, said the WHO.

A global risk is low due to the "remoteness and inaccessibility" of the affected area in the DRC to major international ports.


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