Ebola still ‘endangers’ Nigerians abroad
Last Wednesday, President Goodluck Jonathan complained about discrimination against Nigerians travelling overseas over the Ebola outbreak. But going by developments at the weekend, it seems Nigerians or anyone who has either travelled to Nigeria or any of the affected countries will continue to be treated as a potential patient, writes Asst. Editor OLUKOREDE YISHAU
He was hospitalised on Sunday with a high fever in Malaga, Spain. But because the 40-year-old Nigerian was recently home, he was placed in medical isolation at the Malaga Regional Hospital and tested for the Ebola virus. A spokeswoman at the Malaga hospital said test samples were sent to a laboratory in Madrid yesterday, and results of the tests are due today. The man was in stable condition yesterday, the spokeswoman said.
In a related development, an unidentified young man who sought treatment for high fever and stomach pains at a local health clinic in Stockholm on Sunday evening was also isolated after medical staff learned that he had recently visited a West African country affected by the Ebola virus. Subsequently, he was transferred to medical isolation at Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital.
The man has been tested for Ebola and the results show he doesn’t have the virus, said Ake Ortqvist, a communicable disease specialist, in a statement by Stockholm County Council health services.
“We can conclude that there are no signs whatsoever that patient has contracted Ebola,” Dr. Ortqvist said, adding that the risk of an Ebola outbreak in Sweden is extremely low.
Since the Ebola outbreak, countries, in Europe especially, have treated Nigerians in ways President Goodluck Jonathan said amount to discrimination and stigmatisation. Most of the Nigerians who have been isolated overseas form the suspected Ebola cases reported in Europe. After medical examination, the suspected cases have turned out to be false alarms.
Jonathan condemned the stigmatisation and discrimination against Nigerians overseas over the Ebola Virus Disease while receiving a Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on Ebola Virus, Dr. David Navarro, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Jonathan, according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, cited the instance of Nigeria’s team to the Youth Olympics in China, who were forced to abandon its participation due to stigmatisation.
He said there was no justification for such stigmatisation of Nigerians since the disease had been effectively contained in the country and has never attained epidemic level in the country.
The President called for the cessation of such discriminatory actions against Nigerians over the virus. Jonathan said: “All hands have been on deck to contain the virus here. I commend my team and the Lagos State Government. We have been able to set politics aside and work in unison to deal with a national threat.
“All other Nigerians have played a part too by complying with the directives and advice we have issued to stop the virus from spreading any further. The success we have had is a testimony to what we can achieve as people if we set aside our differences and work together.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation and we will also support other affected African countries as much as we can because we cannot be completely safe from the virus as long as it continues to ravage some countries in our sub-region and continent. We will continue to work with the international community to curb the outbreak in other countries.”
Mr. Navarro, who had visited Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, three countries worst hit by Ebola before coming to Nigeria, told the President that he came on the instruction of the UN Secretary-General to applaud Nigeria’s successful containment of the virus.
He said: “The Secretary-General asked me to come here too, not because you have an Ebola problem, but because you have tackled it in an exemplary fashion.
“Your personal leadership on the matter has been key. There may still be some work to be done before the virus is completely cleared out from here, but other countries can learn from your fine example.”
Navarro said: “I have discussed with the President the result of my mission in other countries in the region and we also examined the situation of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.”
“The point I made to the President of Nigeria is that this country and its people have performed excellently in their response to Ebola Virus Disease.”
“It has been a whole of country effort. The whole of the society has been involved and the correct procedures are being adopted.”
He said as a result of globalisation, free movement between countries and between communities, outbreaks of dangerous diseases would continue.
He said: “The good public health techniques and the full involvement of all of society, strong leadership by all, whatever their political party, can lead to successful control effort.
“We of course regret that some people lost their lives. There may be someone who got sick and died as a result of this current Ebola insertion into Nigeria but I am confident that the government and the people are responding in a proper way and to ensure that the situation is kept under control by the way they are paying full attention to the people’s rights and entitlement.
“So thank you minister and through the media I would also want to thank the people, the government, civil society groups, doctors, nurses communities workers it has been a team effort and it is has been done well and I hope will continue go on well because there may be one or two cases but they will be dealt with.”
More than 1,500 people have died from the Ebola virus in the four affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with more than 3,000 probable and confirmed cases of the disease, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The WHO believes the epidemic could affect as much as 200,000 people before it will eventually be reined in.
For now, there is no approved rug or vaccine for the dreaded disease. ZMapp and others are still being tested. While some have survived after using ZMapp, others have died despite taking it.
Countries, such as Canada, are developing vaccines for the disease. Pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to invest in Ebola drugs because it is the sort of disease that comes once in a while and disappears, a situation which is not good for commercial purpose.
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