Ebola Virus: FG Orders 6 Liberians In Calabar To Lagos For Screening

Ebola Virus: FG Orders 6 Liberians In Calabar To Lagos For Screening

By ThisDay on July 27, 2014
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In a bid to ensure that the Ebola virus does not spread, following  the death of a Liberian national in Lagos last week, the Federal Government on Saturday, July 26, 2014 ordered  six persons made up of Liberians and other West Africans from Ebola-afflicted countries currently attending an ECOWAS meeting in Calabar to return to Lagos for further examination and screening.

In what can be described as contact tracing, THISDAY gathered that the crew of the airline that brought the deceased to Nigeria and all the personnel of the hospital where he died have been screened.
Also, being targeted for screening are all the passengers that flew in  from Monrovia, made a stopover in Lome  before coming to Nigeria. There are 30 or so passengers, mostly non-Nigerians, that have been identified for screening.

It is believed that the federal health authorities have ordered more equipment to detect carriers of the virus.  The move came amid growing concern on how to prevent travellers from Ebola-infested countries from entering Nigeria.

Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in an exclusive interview, told THISDAY that government had to call for the return of the six persons in Calabar to Lagos so as to ascertain whether there were other cases of Ebola virus in Nigeria.

Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, Health Minister
Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, Health Minister

A Liberian government official, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who was billed to attend the ECOWAS meeting in Calabar took ill from the contagious Ebola on Tuesday, July 22 and later died on Friday, July 25.
Chukwu, in the interview with THISDAY, denied that Sawyer was also in Calabar, stressing that, “everyone is doing his or her job; the Ministry of Health is not [the] Immigration, we have Port Health Service in all the international airports and seaports.  We also have offices across the 22 legal crossing points taking care of such cases.”

The minister explained that it was in that regard that, “Mr. Sawyer was immediately handled to isolate him from the public.  We have also ordered the recall of six other persons attending the meeting in Calabar to Lagos to be observed, screened and examined,” he said.

Chukwu informed THISDAY that he had been in talks with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, the Regional Director and WHO Country Representative in Nigeria in an effort to control the crisis.
The minister also pleaded with the media, mostly, private media organisations to, as a matter of urgency, assist government in creating more awareness about the disease.

Though the minister had received assurance from Minister of Information,  Labaran Maku, on the government’s move to sensitise the public about Ebola using public media outfits like the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Radio Nigeria,  Chukwu said more commitment is still expected from the private media.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) said the service had been playing its role but any issue dealing with health should be directed to the right authority.

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