Photo: Ebola virus
*to meet all airlines
By Paul Obi
After several speculations regarding a possible outbreak of Ebola disease, one death resulting from the virus occurred yesterday in Lagos, compelling the Federal Government to embark on frantic efforts to calm the nerves of Nigerians.
The victim was said to be travelling from Monrovia, Liberia to Nigeria with Asky Airline via Lome to Lagos. According to officials, "the passenger, a 40 year old man" who showed symptoms of "fever, vomiting and diarrhea on arrival at the airport" was "quickly isolated and transported straight to the hospitals" by officials of Port Health Service of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu alongside the Ministernof Information, Labaran Maku said the "patient was subjected to thorough medical evaluation where laboratory investigations were also carried out."
Chukwu informed journalists that his "blood sample taken to the advanced laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, which confirmed the diagnosis of Ebola virus. The result was collaborated by other laboratories outside Nigeria. The patient later passed away in the early hours of yesterday," Chukwu said.
Meanwhile, Chukwu assured Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm, given that necessary step to control the virus has been taken by the government across board to prevent further spread of the disease.
Also, the minister explained that "all the passengers that the patient came in contact with have been traced and are being investigated."
Chukwu however announced that President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a special information committee for Ebola. The committee which is chaired by Minister of Information, Mr. Maku is to create necessary awareness among the general public about the disease and what is required by the people to prevent it.
He further assured Nigerians to be vigilant and observe the basic hygiene principles. “I want to reassure the general public that the Federal Ministry of Health is presently working with other ministries, agencies and international organisations as well as the Lagos state government to prevent the possible spread of the virus."
He said the "various steps taken according to him include; quarantining all the passengers that travelled along with the patient; place all entry ports in the country on red alert and ministry of health specialise positioned in all entry points."
To that end, Chukwu announced that all government tertiary health institutions in Nigeria have been equipped to handle any emergency that may arise from the disease, while supportive drugs have been made available.
A meeting between the minister and all airlines have been scheduled as part of the efforts to prevent the spread.
The case exposed Nigeria's weak systemic failure in preventing such deadly virus. The lack of collaborative efforts between the ministry of health, Ministry of Interior and the Nigerian Immigration Service might have led to poor checks that led to the victim visiting Nigeria without checks.
It is also a slap on the face of the authorities, specifically, officials of ministry of health who were recently educated at a global forum on how to prevent the disease from spreading across the West African region.
The World Health Organization ( WHO) had earlier warned of the consequence should the Ebola virus reach Nigeria, stating that, the vast nature of Nigeria's population was a time bomb waiting to happen in the case that Ebola enters a the country.
Photo: Ebola virus