The Minister of Health in Nigeria, Onyebuchi Chukwu has disclosed that Nigeria is completely free of active Ebola (EVD) cases, stating further that all contacts of the deadly disease have been released from scrutinity.
Chukwu made this disclosure yesterday, 23 September, 2014, at the United Nations General Assembly holding in New York, USA. The UN meeting, comprising of all 193 members of the UN meet in New York to among other things discuss on ways to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) ravaging West African countries.
This is more than two months since the index case, the late Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-America imported the deadly virus into Lagos while on a trip for a meeting of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) in Calabar on 23 July.
The minister said: “Presently, there is no single case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria – none. No cases are under treatment, no suspected cases. There are no contacts in Lagos that are still under surveillance, having completed a minimum of 21 days of observation.
“None of them are showing any symptoms. Monday (22 September 2014) will mark the end of their 21 days of observation and the plan is to get them discharged from surveillance yesterday (Tuesday 23 September 2014). Nigeria will be as clean as any other country as far as Ebola virus disease is concerned.”
Prior to Chukwu’s revelation, Rivers State had been home to over 400 contacts under medical surveillance. As of Monday night, only 25 contacts remained. The deadly disease was contained in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and Port Harcourt. Nigeria suffered only 21 Ebola cases with seven deaths recorded after the late Sawyer imported the deadly virus into the country.
Meanwhile, Chukwu added that as Nigeria has been able to successfully contain the virus, preventing stigmatization of Ebola survivors is still a challenge.
“Three terms became part of our lexicon: surveillance, quarantine, and isolation. Surveillance is sort of like house arrest. You don’t criminalize them. The person is actually a victim, not a criminal. We monitor their movements, the rest of the family are counselled about what contact can and can’t be done. We have contact with them every day. You can imagine what this effort must have been like when we had 300 in Lagos and over 400 in Port Harcourt.
“That is the first time we are denying that individual the comfort of his own bed. We put him in separately from the isolation ward from those who are confirmed. If malaria, we discharge them to their doctor to be treated for malaria,” the minister explained.