Journalism of Courage

Nigeria to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak

The federal government stepped up its efforts on Wednesday to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, directing surveillance at all entry points in the country, following the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo.

“What we will do is to set up an emergency operation center which will be chaired by Dr. Babatunde Babasanya, who actually led our efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014, said Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, at the end of Federal Executive council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“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.

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

“The Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) will also consider sending some teams to DRC as part of building capacity for managing  the outbreak. We want to assure Nigerians that the federal government is concerned about the outbreak and will do everything possible  to keep the country safe.”

Adewale, said his ministry presented an update on the state of public health in Nigeria at the FEC meeting. According to him,

“We reported on the situation with Lessa fever and declared that we are declaring the emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak over. Essentially, that implies that the emergency operating center would be stood down but that instead of meeting everyday throughout the country, 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.”

Asked if the ongoing strike by Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), came up in the meeting, the minister 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.”



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