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Ebola: FG plans to send team to Congo – Is Nigeria ready for potential outbreak?

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Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) will consider sending a medical team to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where new cases of Ebola have been confirmed.

The Federal Ministry of Health has also been directed to step up surveillance at all entry points to Nigeria to prevent the return of Ebola.

Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, who briefed journalists on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said the plan was part of the effort to build capacity for managing the outbreak.

“We want to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government is concerned about the outbreak and will do everything possible to keep the country safe,” Adewole said.

He said FEC ordered that steps be taken to keep the Ebola outbreak in DRC from coming to Nigeria.

“FEC has now directed the Federal Ministry of Health to step up emergency surveillance activities at all land and airport borders, so that we can actually keep Nigerians safe.What we will do is to set up an emergency operation center which will be chaired by Dr. Babasanya, who actually led our efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014.

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“Not only that, we will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from DRC and neighbouring countries. We will also ensure we step up all activities screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares.”

CAN NIGERIA HANDLE ANOTHER OUTBREAK?

An investigation by the ICIR last year showed that Nigeria was not prepared to contain any outbreak of the Ebola virus.

The investigation showed that the health facilities designated to treat Ebola patients in any case of outbreak were not in proper shape to respond to an emergency.

The last outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, with the largest casualties recorded in Liberia. The virus was introduced to Nigeria by Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American, who came in on July 20, 2014 through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja.

Sawyer died five days later but he had set off a chain of transmission that infected a total of 19 people, out of whom seven died.

Later on October 20, 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) formally declared Nigeria Ebola-free. Since then, Nigeria has not recorded any case of Ebola.

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