President Goodluck Jonathan has declared the control and containment of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, a National Emergency, a spokesman for the President, Reuben Abati, said on Friday.
In a statement by the spokesman, President Jonathan directed the Federal Ministry of Health to work in collaboration with the State Ministries of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant agencies to ensure that all possible steps were taken to effectively contain the threat of the Ebola Virus in line with international protocols and best practices.
President Jonathan also approved a Special Intervention Plan and the immediate release of 1.9 billion Naira for its implementation, to further strengthen on-going steps to contain the virus.
The fund would be used for the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracing, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders and the procurement of required items and facilities.
The President commended the vigilance of aviation and health authorities in Lagos who identified and isolated the index case in Nigeria, the late Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian who flew into the country.
He also applauded the good work of health authorities at both State and Federal levels who had traced persons who had contact with him, isolated other identified cases and embarked on massive public enlightenment.
President Jonathan called for even greater vigilance and co-operation at all levels to stop the Ebola Virus from spreading further.
The effective implementation of the Federal Government’s Special Intervention Plan will require other stakeholders to take certain precautionary steps that are supportive of the government’s initiative.
Patriotic Call To Duty
The President also advised Nigerians to follow all directives by health authorities and report any suspected Ebola case to the nearest health facility for immediate medical attention.
He also enjoined the public to desist from spreading false information about Ebola which can lead to mass hysteria, panic and misdirection, including unverified suggestions about the prevention, treatment, cure and spread of the virus.
“The movement of corpses from one community to the other and from overseas into the country should be stopped forthwith. Every death should be reported to the relevant authorities, and special precautions should be taken in handling corpses.
“Religious and political groups, spiritual healing centres, families, associations and other bodies should, in the meantime, discourage gatherings and activities that may unwittingly promote close contact with infected persons or place others at risk.
“Public enlightenment agencies, including privately-owned media organs should support government’s efforts and disseminate correct information in all Nigerian languages, about preventive personal hygiene measures, the nature of the Ebola virus, modes of transmission and consequential steps that should be taken in the event of infection,” the President emphasised.
President Jonathan also appealed to State governments and private day care, nursery, primary and secondary schools owners to consider the option of extending the current school holiday until a national reassessment of the level of the Ebola threat is conducted.
To increase the awareness, the National Emergency Management Agency and similar agencies at the state level are to strengthen their public enlightenment campaigns and use their networks to distribute hand sanitisers and other protective items nationwide.
Aviation and health authorities are to embark on immediate intensification of the screening of travellers at all the nation’s borders.
The President reassured everyone that the Government of Nigeria would continue to take every step, deploy all resources, and mobilise every support and assistance to check the spread of Ebola in the country.
While the government is trying to contain the spread of the disease, there is a shortfall of health workers, as the National Medical Association has been on strike for over a month.
President Jonathan, however, urged medical workers and other health professionals to regard the declaration of the National Emergency as a patriotic call to duty and service.
The Nigerian government had earlier requested for the unapproved drug for the treatment of Ebola from the United States.
Two deaths have been recorded so far in Nigeria as a result of the Ebola Virus, with two more cases reported on Friday.