Nigeria: Ebola - Govt Steps Up Surveillance At Airports, Land Borders

Centre de traitement du virus Ebola à l'hôpital de Beni, au Nord-Kivu, en République démocratique du Congo.

Following the death of 17 persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the outbreak of Ebola disease, the federal government has step up surveillance at the airport and land borders .

This was disclosed by the minister of health, Isaac Adewole after the federal executive council meeting presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential Villa.

According to the minister, the federal government will set up an emergency operation center which will be chaired by Dr. Babasanya, who led Nigeria's efforts in Liberia ,Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014.

He further explained that the government will screen passengers coming from Congo and other neighbouring African countries so that the country will not be caught unawares.

He said "Of course of great concern to the federal executive council is the outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo. As you might be aware, over the last one month, DRC recorded 19 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever and lost 16 of the cases.

But l, what is also particularly important was that on Monday, blood samples from five patients in the DRC, particularly in a particular district in DRC, two of the five cases, Ebola was actually confirmed. .

"FEC has now directed the federal ministry of help to step up emergency surveillance activities at all land and airport borders, so that we can actually keep Nigerians safe.

"What we will do is to set up an emergency operation center which will be chaired by Dr. Babasanya, who actually led our efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014.

"Not only that, we will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from DRC and neigbouring countries. We will also ensure we step up all activities screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares."

The minister also disclosed thatNigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) will also consider sending some team to DRC as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak assuring Nigerians that the federal government is concerned about the outbreak and will do everything possible to keep the country safe.

On the ongoing strike by JOHESU, he said "Negotiations are still on with Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and the minister of labour is leading the negotiation and we expect that we will conclude on all issues very soon.

Declaring the emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak over, Adewole added that the emergency operating center would be stood down and instead of meeting everyday they will now meet once a week.

"They will still continue surveillance so that if there are cases anywhere in the country we can quickly dictate it and then treat it appropriately," he stated.

During his briefing, minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said one of the strongest brand that Nigeria has is President Buhari judging by the level of invitation he has been receiving.

According to him, all the major heads of states want to meet with him, pointing out that this is a recognition of the weight of his persona, his integrity and the leadership qualities and, this is something Nigerians should be extremely proud of.

He contended " And we saw that when he went to the United States and the respect Mr. Trump has for him.He was extremely focused during that visit on Nigeria's interest. He wanted the US to help him and this country achieve those priority areas - security, corruption and revamping the economy.

"US is on our side on the fight against insecurity, training and sharing of information.

"We secure the commitment of US to repatriate large sum of looted money in the country.

On what did President Trump mean by exporting Agric produce to the Nigeria, Onyeama explained "With regards to President Trump and the agriculture question, the secretary of commerce of the US read the report of US trade representative and as you know the US trade representative issue report on the trade practices and how those impact on the US and countries around the world.

"The report that he read out indicated that there were a number of trade barriers that US agricultural products face to enter the Nigerian market. President Trump was of the view that considering the level of cooperation and assistance the US provides to Nigeria, that we should do much more to remove those barriers.

"We made a point in that context also that the framework of the African Growth and Opportunities Act, that Nigerian agriculture products also face some barriers entering the US market, especially phyno-sanitary barriers, the standards of those agricultural products.

So, obviously work also need to be done to address those and to provide greater market access for our agricultural products.

So, that was essentially the situation and the idea of the agreement is that there will be follow up at the technical level to review these issues. And as you know, we have an institutional mechanism that is suppose to be meeting this year, a Bi-National commission which is quite comprehensive, the US and Nigeria, we meet once every year to look at all the different sectors and our cooperations in framework of those sectors," he said.

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