Nigeria: we’ll battle Ebola to stand still, says Jonathan
Nigeria took a stand yesterday to battle the Ebola disease at a special presidential meeting convened by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Governors, health commissioners, Federal Government officials and World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Nigeria attended the meeting.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Dr. Reuben Abati said the meeting focused on infection control, case management, contact tracing, capacity building and sensitisation.
He said the meeting also focused on the need for synergy and collaboration between Federal and state governments, global partners and civil society.
It discussed the national status reports by the Health Minister and health commissioners.
Governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Sullian Chime (Enugu); W.H.O Country representative, Dr. Rui Voiz; ministers – Labaran Maku (Information) and Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu (Health) and Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control, Prof Abdulsalam Nasidi addressed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.
Chukwu said the Federal Government named four laboratories for testing.
The laboratories, he said, are at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Surulere, Lagos; the Centre for Disease Control in Asokoro, Abuja; University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State and the Redeemer University Laboratory at Kilometre 35, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
According to him, the government is also targeting more laboratories in Jos and Kano and will set up a mobile testing centre in Enugu by the end of the week.
Nine laboratories, he said, would be set up across the country before the end of next month.
Chukwu said Nigeria had 10 confirmed cases, including the Liberian-American who brought the disease, and those who had contact with the index case.
Of the 10 cases, he said, three had been confirmed dead – Patrick Sawyer, the nurse who attended to him and the protocol officer with ECOWAS Commission who was detailed to welcome delegates to conference in Calabar, Cross River State.
“Seven of the 10 confirmed cases are alive and are showing progress with treatment,” he said.
According to him, 177 persons are under surveillance and at the end of the 21-day incubation period, those under surveillance will no longer be under surveillance.
He said there were 21 secondary contact cases in Enugu State under surveillance, adding that a defiant nurse was under observation in Lagos.
Chukwu said the meeting discussed effective communication and the need to provide isolation centres and laboratories for experiments.
The minister said the government’s decision on prohibition of repatriation of bodies from abroad would be enforced.
But he said waivers would be granted after due diligence would have been carried out.
Chukwu said two of such waivers from Kenya and India of Nigerians who died of diabetes and cancer had been granted.
He said: “Two cases were reported in Abuja but they have been cleared of not having the virus. The one in Anambra concerning a body has been cleared. That of Abia, which was a case of reaction to a drug (Steven Johnson) has been cleared. So also is the body in Imo brought from Liberia. It has been cleared; the cause not being Ebola.”
Fashola made case for transparent disclosure of infected persons.
The governor said health workers should be provided with advanced equipment to protect themselves.
He said: “This is not the time to make fast naira. Next week will be defining for us to know what cases have multiplied. This is not something you keep in a religious house to pray about. Infected persons are not patients you can move by taxis. If they need prayers now, it can be done electronically.
“We are now 99 per cent following the cases. We need to have 100 per cent because, if we have one infected person, it is a global risk, not just for Nigeria.
“We have to drop our traditional behaviours like shaking of hands and nobody should be offended. You have to stop defecating and urinating in public, particularly at this time of our challenges.”
Governor Chime said: “From the reports of the meeting, it is clear Nigeria has the capacity to fight Ebola. But there is need for standardised practice in combating it.”
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