Africa Focus: Nigeria intensify surveillance to curtail Ebola spread   2014-08-01 21:05:51            

LAGOS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria was intensifying surveillance to curtail possible spread of Ebola virus after the death of a 40- year-old Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, on July 25 in Lagos, the nation's commercial hub, the government has said.

Fears of global outbreak were raised last week, after a man showing signs of Ebola were allowed to leave Liberia on a flight to Lagos, an international travel hub in Nigeria, where he later died.

Addressing a joint news conference in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city on Thursday, Minister of Information Labaran Maku and his Health counterpart, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the West African country has not recorded any case of the virus.

"We are also increasing media awareness on the disease," Maku added.

The minister told reporters that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had agreed to adopt strategies to help in preventing the spread of the virus.

Maku said phone number would be made available to Nigerians to interact with experts on the disease, adding that information on suspected case could also be forwarded via the number.

On his part, Health Minister Chukwu, told reporters that after the death of Sawyer two people had been quarantine, while 69 others were under surveillance.

According to him, staff and people who took care of the man are also under surveillance.

Chukwu said the country had not closed its borders, stressing that the World Health Organization (WHO) discouraged countries from doing so, adding that all ports of entry in Nigeria, including airports, seaports and land boarders have been placed on red alert.

The minister said the government had engaged state governments on precaution measures to prevent spread of the virus.

He urged the public to cultivate the culture of hand washing to help prevent infection.

Chukwu appealed to the media to support government campaign on prevention of the Ebola, adding that they should endeavor to report fact and always verify information in case of any doubt.

Also, the southwest Nigeria's Lagos State Government has reiterated that no fresh case of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease has been found in the state or any part of the country.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Yewande Adeshina, told reporters on Thursday that none of the persons said to have come in contact with the late Liberian victim of the Ebola disease, has manifested unusual body temperature or any other symptom of the dreaded virus.

She said all the persons who were in close contact with the deceased Liberian in Nigeria are hale and hearty and have not exhibited any unusual symptoms, just as there has been no case of the dreaded disease from the country's borders.

Similarly, workers from agencies operating at airports in Nigeria are being sensitized by port health officials on the dangers posed by the Ebola virus.

Yakubu Dati, the Coordinating General Manager of aviation parastatal agencies, said in a statement in Abuja on Thursday that the sensitization was focused on how to prevent the spread of the virus in the work place, at home and in the community.

He said arriving passengers are to be processed first by port health personnel who are expected to carry out necessary tests on every passenger with special devices that do not permit physical contact.

Those found to be free of any signs or symptoms would proceed to the immigration area for other formalities, he added, noting that a holding area has been provided at the tarmac for suspected cases while index cases are expected to be isolated in a designated area outside the airport for further examination and treatment.

According to World Health Organization, the death toll from the outbreak of Ebola in West African had risen to 729, with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been the worst hit countries.

Editor: yanting
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