Ebola: FG Bans Conveyance Of Corpses In Public Vehicles

The National Council on Health has banned  the conveyance of corpses and critically ill persons either within or from outside the country with immediate effect.

It urged each state government and the Federal Capital Territory to enact a legislation for its effective enforcement.

The NCH is the highest policy making body in the health sector comprising the Minister of Health as the Chairman; the Minister of State for Health; Commissioners for Health; and the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Federal Capital Territory as members while the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health  serves as the Council’s secretary.

The Health Minister,  Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting explained that the council deliberated extensively on strategies to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease beyond those who had primary contact with the late Liberian, Patrick Sawyer.

He said since it had been established that the disease could only be spread through contact with either the corpse of someone who died of the virus or anyone who is sick as  result of the virus infection, necessary steps had been taken to discourage any form of contact with them.

He said the council had resolved that all corpses should be accompanied with death certificates while all states should put in place, legislation to support the resolution.

He said, “The corpses of all persons confirmed to have died of EVD must be buried according to standard World Health Organization protocol.

“Council further directed that the transportation of corpses into Nigeria as well as inter-state transportation be banned until further notice except with approved waivers that may be issued by the Federal Ministry of Health.”

As a major step to ensure immediate action on the directive,  the minister on Tuesday,  briefed leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers and their counterparts in the National Road Transport Owners to his office in Abuja on the Council’s resolution.

He told those whose vehicles ply inter national routes to demand waivers from owners of corpses who want to hire their vehicles for its conveyance into Nigeria and must make sure that they use an ambulance for that purpose.

“As at today, don’t allow any sick person to enter your vehicles again except he or she produces a medical report which should contain the nature of the ailment and the fact that other passengers will not be infected. Only the dead and the sick can transmit the disease.

“Secondly, don’t carry any corpse unless you have the waiver which is obtainable only from the Federal Ministry of Health,  duly signed by the Minister. Demand waivers from anybody who ask you to carry dead persons.

“Find out from the ministry, the authenticity of the waivers in case you are in doubt. Without waiver,  we will not allow you to enter Nigeria and your vehicle will be impounded because the disease is transmitted mainly by someone who died of the virus and the sick persons infected with the virus.

”The minister advised drivers and public transport owners to insist that passengers must henceforth fill correctly, their names, next of kins, phone numbers and their seat numbers in the manifest.”

He said a protocol officer who obliged the late Sawyer, the usage of his mobile phone, contacted the virus while 10 member of a family died of EVD in Sierra Leone after they had burried someone who died of the deadly disease.

Representatives of the two transport bodies, Messr Ayoola Sadiku of NARTO and Alhaji Dansaki Sulaiman of the NURTW,  pledged to convey the minister’s message to their members and begin implementation immediately in the interest of all Nigerians.

Meanwhile the NCH has urged the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to suspend its strike forthwith and contribute its quota in the ongoing response to this national health emergency.

It directed state governments to institutionalise communication strategy to ensure mass awareness creation and sensitisation for individuals and communities on EVD.