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Doctors move to avert spread of fresh Ebola outbreak

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Risks for another Ebola outbreak remain high and for an even larger area, study shows. PHOTO: Humanosphere

• Seek responsive team, tighter borders, govt urges calm
•Two more suspected cases confirmed in DR Congo

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is finalising an arrangement to contain a possible spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) following its recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

It urged the Federal Government to strengthen its response team and increase surveillance on the nation’s borders.

The proactive move, instigated by the confirmation of two more suspected cases of the deadly disease which have claimed three lives in the Central African nation, is to check the disaster and make government alive to its responsibilities of ensuring good health for the citizenry.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja by its President and Secretary General, Mike Ogirima and Yusuf Tanko Sununu, NMA pledged its readiness to partner the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to achieve yet another feat on prevention and control of the contagious ailment.

The doctors, subsequently, appealed to all health teams to refresh their knowledge on clinical presentation of the scourge, apply universal basic precautions in patients’ care and employ standard protocols of management and reporting of suspected cases.

The NMA also called on Nigerians to be calm and cooperate with government in securing the country, especially during surveillance at entry points.

The medics equally assured the citizens of their readiness to safeguard the health of the nation.

“The recent declaration of outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is another major setback to the world. The devastation brought about by the last one still remains fresh in our minds. West Africa was worst affected with more than 11,000 deaths recorded in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“Efforts by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have been acclaimed as one of the best moments the country demonstrated. That is, where there is political will, success is assured. The role of our fallen heroes, especially the late Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh in the control of the spread of the disease is not only worth remembering but reminds us of the need to make sacrifices for our country,” the statement read.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday identified two more suspected cases of the deadly virus a day after it declared an outbreak in Congo.

The United Nations agency disclosed at the weekend there were now 11 suspected cases, including three reported deaths, in Likati in Congo’s northern Bas-Uele Province. It added that one death had tested positive for an Ebola strain earlier seen in the country.

WHO noted that the first infection was contracted by a male on April 22, 2017 some 870 miles from the capital, Kinshasa. It is, however, working with the government to coordinate a response.

The Central African nation has witnessed seven major outbreaks in the recent past, including 2014 when it recorded dozen cases. That particular incident was unconnected with the massive epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that left thousands affected.

According to the global agency, the virus causes acute illness, and it is even fatal, if untreated. The virus first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in what is now, Nzara, South Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease derives its name.

The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa was the largest and most complex since its emergence. There were more cases and deaths recorded in this instance than all others put together. It also spread between countries, starting in Guinea then moving across borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The virus family, Filoviridae, includes three genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus. Within the genus Ebolavirus, five species have been identified namely Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first three have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus, that caused the 2014–2016 sad incident, belongs to the Zaire specie.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has called on Nigerians not to panic as the Federal Government remains committed to ensuring that Ebola disease is not imported into the country.

The minister made the call yesterday while inspecting thermal screening machines located at the Port Health Stand of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

A statement from the ministry noted that the minister was at the airport on assessment tour to ensure that the screening machines were functioning perfectly as the country steps up surveillance in detecting fever of any kind.

You may recall that the country began health screening at the airports during the Ebola crisis of 2014, and the screening has continued since then.

Adewole said, “we want to assure Nigerians that we have never stopped screening people, it has been going on at the international wings of all the airports in the country, although passengers may not have noticed it.

“There is no reason to panic, everything is under control, if there is a need to screen local passengers we would do that but for now we are concentrating on passengers on international travels.”

He said that people should be free to go about their lawful business, but that they should report any signs or symptoms of fever to the nearest health facility.

Earlier, Adewole had a meeting with the Airport Manager Alh. Sani Muhammed who assured the minister of the readiness of all the airport staff to work together in ensuring that Ebola does not spread into the country.

The minister further directed that any passengers with fever arriving from a county where Ebola has been detected should be taken for further investigation.

According to the Director, Port Health Services, Dr. Hassan Garba, a sophisticated thermal camera captures all the arriving passengers with or without their knowledge, and anybody who is captured as red on the camera, would be  quietly called aside for questioning.

The minister further directed that any passengers with fever arriving from a county where Ebola has been detected should be taken for further investigation.

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