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Published On: Wed, Sep 10th, 2014

Ebola: Reps mull reversal of Sept 22 schools resumption

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House of Representatives reps logoBy Umar Muhammad Puma, Suleiman Idris, Lagos & Doyin Ojosipe

Following the recent decision by federal government to re-open schools for the 2014/2015 academic session on Monday, September 22, 2014, the House of Representatives has directed its committee on education to look at the issue of resumption date for private and public primary/secondary schools in the country with a view to reviewing it.

The House said the directive is necessitated by growing concern amongst the public, especially parents and guardians of the students, In the wake of the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus disease in the country.

Education Minister, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, had announced a postponement in the resumption date of schools from September to October 13, 2014, so as to give the country’s health authorities enough time to ensure containment.

In a swift reaction, however, private school owners had vehemently opposed the one-month shift in resumption, compelling the Federal Ministry of Education to settle for a new date of September 22, 2014, after a meeting with stakeholders in the sector.

Answering question from journalists yesterday in Abuja, the Deputy Chairman, Media & Public Affairs in the House of Representatives, Rep Victor Afam Ogene, (PDP Abia), stated that the House Leadership resolved to mandate its Committee on Education to take another look at the issue, “ in the overall interest of the pupils and students, parents and guardian and the general well-being of the entire country”.

Rep Ogene said given the reality of some persons still under surveillance, and the likelihood of having other cases, there was the need to put the safety of children and that of the entire country into consideration, in arriving at when best to order a re-opening of both private and public schools.

Only on Monday, September 8, 2014, a group, Africa Health, Human & Social Development Information Service ( Afri-Dev. Info) had warned that the reopening of schools, involving no fewer than 80 million children, adolescents, students and teachers was a high-risk venture, which poses grave risk to all concerned.

Meanwhile, an Air Marshal with one of the American carrier into Nigeria was attacked and allegedly injected with a yet to be identified substance at the Lagos airport.

The unidentified Air Marshal, according to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI is currently kept in a quarantine facility in Houston Texas amid worries that that syringe’s contents which he was attacked could have been a deadly substance.

Reports from the US indicate that the fear being raised is that the syringe could have carried some form of the Ebola virus, because Nigeria is one of the West African countries where the epidemic has spread.

The FBI said “The victim did not exhibit any signs of illness during the flight and was transported to a hospital upon landing for further testing. None of the testing conducted has indicated a danger to other passengers. “The statement said.

The American authority said they were alarmed by the bizarre, unprovoked attack because the assailant was apparently able to inject an unknown substance into the back of one of the air marshal’s arms.

Investigation by our reporter in Lagos showed that the victim was traveling with a team of other marshals when the attack took place in an unsecured area of the airport terminal in Lagos.

However, he was able to board the United Airlines flight to Houston where he was scheduled to work and was met in Houston by FBI agents and health workers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

While the unknown assailant ran away and could not be located, the US officials said the other air marshals on the team were able to secure the needle and bring it on the flight for testing in the U.S.

A health official of the airport authority who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that the American informed the Nigerian team on duty on the night of the incident and it was documented.

But the federal authority has debunked that such occurrence took place within the precinct of the airport in Lagos.

General Manager, Cooperate Communication Mr. Dati Yakubu in a statement said footage of the movement of the air Marshal captured on CCTV did not show that an attack took place.

However, the US government yesterday announced a $10 million aid to assist West Africa in Ebola response.

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