By Stanley Onyekwere
Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed divergent views over declaration of Nigeria as Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO), even as they described the development as a signal that the country is making progress in the war against the world’s deadly virus.
They made the submission while reacting to the WHO’s verdict on the recent outbreak of the disease in the country, following the effort of the government at containing the disease in the country.
While reacting to the country’s Ebola-free status, a cross section of the residents, who spoke to the Peoples Daily, the declaration was necessary, to bolster confidence of the FCT administration and the Federal government at large, thereby improving the health sector, following the emergency of Ebola outbreak in the country.
They added that although there was no recorded case of the disease in the FCT, it would enable residents in the nation’s capital relate freely with each other, prior to when the WHO’s verdict.
While many were of the view that in spite of the positive declaration, there are mounting palpable despair among people in the nation’s capital, some observed that since the news broke out, people are happier, as there is sense of security, health wise across board.
In particular, some residents questioned the objectives of the WHO’s verdict on the prevalence of the disease in the country, lamenting that it may lead to the relevant authorities relaxing on the ongoing efforts at containing the epidemic, thereby exposing the people in the FCT and the country at large to the possible outbreak of the disease.
They argued that with some neighbouring countries are still battling with Ebola, Nigeria is still vulnerable, hence the need to defer the wide celebration that greeted the WHO’s verdict, and focus on beefing up the exiting precautionary measures against the virus.
Prior to the WHO’s declaration, as part of efforts at combating the dreaded Ebola virus disease in some parts of the country, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), completed the 10 bed isolation center located in Kuje General Hospital, in the Territory.
According to the FCTA, it worked assiduously towards ensuring that the lives of other patients at the part of the hospital and the entire Kuje, are adequately protected from the disease, in the event of any outbreak of Ebola in the Territory.
According to the administration, as part of the preventive measures as directed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it has provided requisite trainings for all level of health workers at the hospital.
A resident, Abigail Lanre, viewed the declaration as a proof that the relevant authorities in the FCT and the country at large responded appropriately to the disease burdens, sufferings and aspirations of ordinary citizens.
According to her, the development has helped to reduce the heightened fears over the deadly scourge, which had hitherto caused a lot disaffection and discrimination among residents of the Territory.
She noted that since the news of Nigeria being Ebola-free broke out, hand sanitisers, which was a common sight across the country especially the FCT, were nowhere to be found.
“Before the WHO’s declaration, many people had restored to carrying sanitizers with them around, ever since the outbreak of the disease, are no longer doing so, as the fear of the deadly disease have suddenly disappeared to a large extent,” she stressed.
However, a resident at Jabi, in Utako district, Umaru Ali, said decried that the declaration had rather came very early, saying he would have preferred it coming much later, because of the current health crisis facing the nation, as it seems that the government had started to be and doing in the health sector, ever since the incident of the Ebola epidemic, which caused panic among the people.
“Ordinarily, with the raging health crisis due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in the country, people should not neglect the precautionary measure against the disease, especially waiting to be swayed into maintaining high hygiene habits, in order to help contain the scourge,” one Uche Akudo, pointed out.
On his part, businessman, Michael Ojole, noted that since the development, the rate at which people in the FCT buy hand sanitisers has reduced drastically, including the price of the commodity, as most people no longer see the need of relying on it to prevent them from contracting the ailment.
Also, a resident, in Wuse area, Emma Okon, called for all and sundry to still be on the alert, as there are still much to be done, in order to effectively win the battle against ravaging epidemic.
“It would by far cost us more, if we in the FCT go to sleep and allow the achievement of Ebola-free status to negatively affect the already established precautions against the disease.
“Also, the usual posture of government towards managing success in the country must change, for the attainment of an Ebola-free society to be sustained, if not, it is a matter of time before we return to zero level in the war against the scourge,” he stressed.
Similarly, one Kunle Balogun, in Garki, who equally expressed fears over the declaration, noted that given that leaders in this part of the world have been known to be very insensitivity to the real issues affecting the people, for whom they had taken oaths of office to service, said it was not clear what authorities achieved with it.
“Nonetheless, at least it’s now that the much awaited WHO’s verdict has finally come, we have realized that it was worth the efforts, despite our divisive tendency on issues.
“But, it is important for the FCT administration to sustain efforts with other stakeholders, to ensure that we remain free from deadly diseases spreading fears over the land,” he suggested.
Not left out, another resident, Mr. Rose James, in Jabi, was of the view that since the declaration, he feels more free to relate with people in the public places, as it has helped cleared the fears of possibly contracting disease through bodily contact with other members.
“We are feeling a great sign of relief now that the Nigeria have been declared ebola-free by the WHO, at least now we can resume normal life when in public places; because I’m sure people must have realized that they are at low risk of contracting the disease .
“We feared the disease, and anyone manifesting ebola like symptoms, as on a daily basis we here news of many people who are dying because of it,” she noted.
However, another resident, Amina Abu, in Wuse 2, said the WHO’s verdict is a sign that the FCT Administration and other governments across the country have done well by taken measures against the spread of the virus, after it was imported into the country.
Also, she commended the doctors in public hospitals, who heeding to the peoples’ passionate appeal to immediately call off their nationwide strike action and return to work, which she said help in checking the spread of the disease.
According to her, “there is no doubt that in the face of the outbreak of the disease, that the nationwide doctors’ strike was taking its toll on healthcare services in public hospitals in the FCT and other parts of the country.
“But thank God that the striking doctors at that time, decided to, in the interest of the people. I commend them for taking the right step to save the people from further exposure to the ravaging Ebola virus and other epidemics.”
But, prior to the WHO’s declaration, some concerned observers had also opined that with the continued existence of Ebola virus in some neigbouring countries, and it’s extension to Europe and the United States of America (USA), there was still need to remained on the alert over the growing threat of the epidemic, especially given the poor state of healthcare services in many public medical facilities.
According to one Angela John, said even with the WHO’s declaration, she and her friends still spend a lot of money on buying hand sanitisers and avoid handshakes for fear of contracting the disease.
“We are aware that a major aspect of efforts to prevent the virus from further spread entails the adoption of proper hygiene and good sanitation, so it is better to continue for now until the disease is completely wiped out in the world,” she maintained.
It would be recalled that the disease first entered the country through one Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian diplomat, when arrived Lagos state on the 23rd of July 2014 and by the 25th of July; it claimed its first victim, a nurse, who among those that treated the late Liberian, who died of the disease on admission at a private hospital, in Lagos.
But later, a few other cases were reported in two other states- Enugu and Rivers, with further confirmed deaths.
Also, there was panic in Abuja, when a patient on admission at the Accident and Emergency unit, of the Family Medicine unit of Asokoro District hospital, in FCT, died after showing suspected Ebola symptoms.
Checks revealed that Ebola, one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, with 90% of fatality is highly contagious, as it spreads through contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat and vomit.