Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has confirmed reports of the country’s first case of Ebola Virus Disease, brought in by Liberian Patrick Sawyer, who died on Thursday night.
He announced that an emergency operation centre under the coordination of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in collaboration with an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has been set up by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Chukwu, who was speaking to the media in Abuja on Friday, stated that the virus has not been reported elsewhere and assured that the authorities have done enough to prevent its spread within and outside Lagos.
He explained that the Federal Ministry of Health was alerted to the presence of the 40-year old male suspect in Lagos on July 22. The male suspect had travelled into Lagos from Monrovia, Liberia via Lome on Asky Airline.
“The passenger presented with fever, vomiting and diarrhoea on arrival at the airport,” he said. “He was then handed over by the airline to the port health services of the federal ministry of health (FMOH), who quickly isolated him and transported him straight to the hospital, avoiding contact with the general public.”
The passenger was then put thorough medical evaluation, including blood work in an advanced laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, which confirmed the diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease.
“The result was corroborated by other laboratories outside Nigeria,” the Minister said.
He revealed that his ministry was collaborating with other ministries, agencies, international organisations and the Lagos State government to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Measures have been taken to contain the spread of the disease, as all passengers that the patient came in contact with have been traced and they are being investigated."
“In line with the WHO international health regulations and in keeping with international best practices, all ports of entry into Nigeria, including airports, seaports and land boarders are placed on red alert.”
Chukwu further stated that health specialists have been positioned in all of the nation’s entry points, and active surveillance has also been stepped up. All government tertiary health institutions have also been been equipped to handle any emergency that might arise from the disease.
He urged Nigerians to remain vigilant, ensure improved personal and environmental hygiene, and report any suspected case to the nearest medical facility.
Calling for calm, he stressed that the government was doing its best to safeguard the health of its citizens.