The Federal Government has ordered health workers to intensify screening of passengers coming into the country as part of deliberate efforts to check possible spread of Ebola virus. The deadly virus resurfaced in DR Congo a couple of days ago.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which was presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Nigeria was hit with the deadly virus in 2014 when a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, entered the country with the disease, causing its spread across the country with many deaths recorded.
Adewole, however, stated that the acting president had directed relevant government agencies to intensify surveillance to avoid a recurrence.
The minister said:
We are aware of the outbreak of Ebola in DRC in the last couple of days. There are implications for this because one single case can trigger a public health alert.
For us as a country, we need to step up now. Fortunately for us, Ebola is not indigenous to Nigeria. For us to have Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, it has to be imported.
And so, what we need to do is to step up preparedness at all borders: land, sea and air, to ensure that we quickly identify a probable case, offer additional screening and quarantine.
The Acting President directed that we should step up activities at the border points and I did visit the port health services at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to confirm that surveillance activities are ongoing.
The minister announced that the ministry had already inaugurated an Ebola Preparedness Working Group to be chaired Dr Basanyi.
Basanyi led the Nigerian contingent to Liberia for the Ebola control programme.
Adewole also revealed that he briefed FEC on the current state of meningitis outbreak in some parts of the country.
“With respect to meningitis, FEC also received communication from the Minister of Health with regards to current state of meningitis. We are in week 19 and we are happy to inform the nation that the number of new cases has been dropping since the last five weeks. We are happy that we are getting almost to the end of the outbreak. Our main challenge is how to handle those already infected and so, we have two medical teams in the two states mostly affected — Zamfara and Sokoto States,” he said.