The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday finally declared Nigeria officially free of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), a viral infection that has infected about 9,216 and killed 4,555 people, in West Africa.
The global body said Nigeria has completed an extended 42 –day observation period a time test-worthy of international certification, and called the country’s ability to contain a deadly virus a “spectacular success”, with commendation for swift and coordinated actions by the Nigerian government to curtail the spared of the deadly virus in the country.
“The lines on the tabular situation reports, sent to WHO each day by its country office in Nigeria, have now been full of zeros for 42 days,” WHO said, in a statement yesterday.
“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail.”
WHO had last week explained that, 42 days from the last Ebola case will give enough confidence to declare a country free of an epidemic outbreak; “the 42 day period is twice the generally accepted maximum incubation period of the virus,” it added.
Nigeria was the 4th West African country to be hit by the Ebola outbreak in July, when a Liberian – American Consultant, Patrick Sawyer collapsed at the Lagos airport, later taken to a private hospital, in Obalende, Lagos Island, diagonized and certified to be infected with the deadly disease, where some health workers were infected, leaving some of his primary contacts dead of the infection.
Sawyer, the only Nigeria’s index Ebola case, died about two weeks later. The country recorded another six casualties both in Lagos and Rivers states.
At a press briefing in Abuja, WHO’s Country Representative for Nigeria, Dr. Rui Dama Gaz declared, “The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated. This is spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained.”
The confirmation of the EVD in Nigeria had thrown the country into fearful long periods of aggressive contact tracing, isolation, quarantine and careful treatments, which had beaten the report that Ebola survival rate was slim, even as 12 out of 19 infected persons had survived the disease.
At the last count, Nigeria recorded 19 cases of the virus, out of which seven died, amongst them doctors and nurses.
Nigeria has not recorded a new case since October 2.
Reacting, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said all precautionary measures put in place to checkmate the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country remains despite that the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the nation is free of the disease.
Jonathan in a briefing on his behalf by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, welcomed the WHO certification but warned that the war will only truly end when West Africa, Africa and the world are declared free of Ebola.
According to him, “The President consequently directs that all the anti-Ebola measures taken after the entry of the virus into the country should remain in place and that health officials should continue to actively screen persons entering the country through its air, land and sea borders for any sign of the virus.
Similarly, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kwara state chapter, has said it is a good development, the declaration by the WHO that Nigeria is free of the dreaded Ebola virus.
In a media briefing in Ilorin on Monday to mark the 2014 Physicians’ week, the NMA, Kwara state chapter chairman, Dr. Ayinla Abubakar, who was represented by his vice, Dr. Olawale Musbau, said the feat was a demonstration that Nigerians are capable of addressing their national challenges.
He, however, said government at all levels and all stakeholders, including the public must not relax and be complacent since WHO has declared Nigeria Ebola-free, adding that all Ebola-preventive measures should still be observed.
He stated that the feat was achieved by what he called the exceptional commitment of government to stamp out the deadly disease in the country and the unalloyed resolve of the medical practitioners to lead the challenge.
“We need to face the challenge of remaining free from Ebola by taking due precautions and abiding by the preventive strategies; improve on our public relations and learn more as a group on ways of communicating our good motives in restructuring the health system of the country.