In an attempt to keep Nigerians safe from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the country’s government on Wednesday directed the ministry of health to step up surveillance activities.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, stated this when he briefed state house correspondents at the end of the council’s meeting chaired by vice-president Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister said the council’s directive followed the reported re-emergence of the disease in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said that the council had ordered that steps must be taken to keep the Ebola outbreak away from Nigeria, saying that part of the new measures to be taken would include screening of passengers coming into the country.
“Of course of great concern to the Federal Executive Council is the outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo.
“As you might be aware, over the last one month, DRC recorded 19 suspected cases of viral haemorrhagic fever and lost 16 of the cases.
“But what is also particularly important was that on Monday, blood samples from five patients in the DRC, particularly in a particular district in DRC, two of the five cases, Ebola was actually confirmed.
“And, FEC (Federal Executive Council) 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 centre which will be chaired by Dr Babasanya, who actually led our efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014.
“Not only that, we will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from DRC and neigbouring countries.
“We will also ensure we step up all activities, screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares,” he said.
According to him, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will also consider sending some teams to DRC as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak.
Adewole reassured Nigerians that the government was concerned about the outbreak and would continue to do everything possible to keep the country safe from the outbreak.
The minister also said that the ministry presented an update on the state of public health in Nigeria at the FEC meeting.
He said: “We reported on the situation with Lassa fever and declared that we are declaring the emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak over.
“Essentially, that implies that the emergency operating centre would be stood down but that instead of meeting everyday throughout the country, they will now meet once a week.
“They will still continue surveillance so that if there are cases anywhere in the country we can quickly detect it and then treat it appropriately.”