President Goodluck Jonathan has declared the control and containment of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, a National Emergency, even as he urged churches and mosques to discourage worshipers as well as political party members from gathering together in the meantime as a measure to curb the spread of the viral disease.
The President urged that the movement of corpses from one community to the other, and from overseas into the country should be stopped forthwith. Every death should be reported to the relevant authorities, and special precautions should be taken in handling corpses.
A statement by President’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, Friday in Abuja said the President 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.
“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,” the statement said.
“President Jonathan also approved a Special Intervention Plan and the immediate release of N1. 9 billion for its implementation, to further strengthen on-going steps to contain the virus such as the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracing, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders, and the procurement of required items and facilities.
“The President commends the vigilance of aviation and health authorities in Lagos who identified and isolated the index case in Nigeria, the late Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian who flew into the country,” it said.
According to the statement, Jonathan applauded the health authorities at both State and Federal levels who have traced persons who had contact with him, isolated other identified cases and embarked on massive public enlightenment.
The President called for even greater vigilance and co-operation at all levels to stop the Ebola virus from spreading further.
“As the effective implementation of the Federal Government’s Special Intervention Plan will require other stakeholders to take certain precautionary steps that are supportive of the government’s initiative, the President calls on 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.
“He also enjoins the public 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.
“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 appeals 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.
“The President further directs the National Emergency Management Agency and similar agencies at the state level to strengthen their public enlightenment campaigns and to use their networks to distribute hand sanitisers and other protective items nationwide. He has also directed the aviation and health authorities to embark on immediate intensification of the screening of travelers at all the nation’s borders.
“President Jonathan reassures everyone that the Government of Nigeria will continue to take every step, deploy all resources, and mobilize every support and assistance to check the spread of Ebola in the country.
“Medical workers and other health professionals are expected to regard this declaration of a National Emergency as a patriotic call to duty and service,” it added.