By Ayodamola Owoseye
The federal government has debunked the report of the discovery of a case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria.
The Ministry of Health in a press statement signed by its director of media, Boade Akinola, described as false the message circulating on social media claiming a reported case of Ebola in the country.
According to the statement, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Abdullaziz Abdullahi, urged Nigerians to disregard the rumour.
Mr Abdullahi also warned against the “circulation of any unverified information which could cause harm to innocent people and unnecessary panic among the citizens.
A message had been circulating on the social media claiming a confirmed case of Ebola in the country.
According to the message, a passenger with serious symptoms of Ebola arrived Lagos Wednesday morning and all Medical Centers had been alerted.
The message read:
“We have just been informed by Port-health of a passenger with serious symptoms of EBOLA that arrived Lagos this morning and all Medical Centers have been alerted, and we are advised to take caution, work with hand gloves, wash our hands regularly and also sanitise our hands. Pls it reached us as a serious matter. Thanks.”
Debunking the rumour
Mr Abdullahi, however, said the report is untrue and baseless.
He assured Nigerians that the government swung into action in protecting the nation’s borders since the reports of EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Since the report of out of EVD in DRC, heightened surveillance has been on-going at the various points of entry by officials of the Port Health Services division of the ministry to prevent importation into Nigeria.”
“To this effect, every sick passenger has been properly screened and I can say categorically that none of the patients screened has tested positive for Ebola or any deadly disease,” he said.
The permanent secretary also noted that in line with WHO’s guidelines, a recent preliminary assessment conducted by the Nigeria Ebola preparedness Team, coordinated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), indicated that the overall risk of importation of EVD to Nigeria from DRC and Uganda is low.
Mr Abdullahi, however, said the government was not resting on its oars in view of trading activities of Nigerians.
He assured that Nigeria government remained fully committed while working closely with the WHO, states ministries of health, partners and all other stakeholders to protect the health of Nigerians.
“However, necessary protocols are being followed in line with international Health regulations,” he said.
Prior to the rumor, NCDC had assured Nigerians that the country is not at risk of Ebola outbreak.
The Nigerian health agency said chances of the Ebola Virus being imported from Uganda or DRC are low as there are no direct routes from those countries to Nigeria.
NCDC said the conclusion was reached following a preliminary risk assessment conducted by the agency on the overall risk of the importation of the disease into the country.
“There are no direct commercial flights and no known direct trade routes to Nigeria from Uganda. The current transmission pathway of the disease in Uganda is through unmanned land borders and further away from the capitals of both Uganda and Nigeria,” NCDC said.