President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a national emergency for the control and containment of the Ebola virus in Nigeria and approved the immediate release of N1. 9 billion for the implementation of a Special Intervention Plan.
This is the outcome of an emergency meeting the President held with key stakeholders Friday afternoon.
The Special Intervention Plan include the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracking, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders and the procurement of required items and facilities.
Accordingly, the President Jonathan has 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 are taken to effectively contain the threat of the Ebola virus in line with international protocols and best practices.
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, the American-Liberian who flew into the country with the virus, and called for even greater vigilance and co-operation at all levels to stop the virus from spreading further.
The President also urged members of the public to follow all directives by health authorities and report any suspected Ebola case to the nearest health facility for immediate medical attention, even as he enjoined them 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.
He further urged that the movement of corpses from one community to the other and from overseas into the country should be stopped forthwith and that every death should be reported to the relevant authorities while 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 to be taken in the event of infection,” President Jonathan said.
He also appealed to state governments and private daycare, nursery, primary and secondary schools owners to consider the option of extending the current school holiday until such a time when a national reassessment of the level of the Ebola threat is conducted.
“Medical workers and other health professionals are expected to regard this declaration of a National Emergency as a patriotic call to duty and service,” Jonathan added.