Nigeria: Govt to Activate Emergency Response Against Ebola Disease

MSF medical staff in protective gear on a shift in the high-risk zone to check people with suspected cases of Ebola (file photo).
16 February 2021

The federal government is set to take measures against a possible resurgence of Ebola disease in the country, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.

Following reports of confirmed cases of Ebola in the West African nation of Guinea, Ihekweazu said that a team of NCDC experts on Ebola disease has swung into action and would be issuing a public health advisory to Nigerians soon.

NCDC gave hope of a safer response to the Ebola disease outbreak this time with the development of anti-Ebola vaccines.

Speaking yesterday at the media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 in Abuja, the Ihekweazu said that the agency had received reports of the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola disease in Guinea at the weekend.

He said that the government of Guinea had on February 14 reported an outbreak of Ebola in the country with seven cases.

According to him, one of the incidents was said to have involved a nurse who attended the burial ceremony of a relation and was later diagnosed of the disease a few days later.

Ihekweazu said that Nigeria will take advantage of the news of the outbreak to increase surveillance at its borders with neighbouring countries.

He added that unlike the situation during Ebola outbreak in 2014, there is now a vaccine against the disease.

He said: "Our Ebola disease working group is already looking into the matter and we will soon issue a public health advisory in this regard. Just last month, the international coordinating group, including the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Red Cross announced for the first time the establishment of a global vaccine stockpile for Ebola. We now have a vaccine against Ebola that can be used in the context of an outbreak".

While reassuring Nigerians of government's readiness to protect the country from the second outbreak of Ebola, Ihekweazu said NCDC is taking the task very seriously.

He said the agency is monitoring very closely the reported incidence of Ebola in the two countries - Guinea and Democrats Republic of Congo where there were reported cases.

Ihekweazu further gave update on the spread and detection of the new COVID-19 variant in the country.

He said NCDC working with the African Centre for Excellence in Gernormics in Ede, Osun state has been able to confirm a total of 29 cases of the B117 variant of COVID-19 in Edo, Kwara, Lagos, Osun, Oyo states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Also speaking on the measures being taken by the federal government to check the outbreak of the Ebola, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said:

"Nigeria's Port Health Services have been put on alert on land, sea and air borders and all major hospitals have also been put on notice to alert health workers to have a keen index of suspicion and to check patient travel history, especially at outpatient departments, and report concerns to infectious disease focal persons and the State epidemiologists without hesitation

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