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Nigeria Is Totally Free From EVD - Chukwu

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The Minister of Health for Nigeria, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu has said that the country of Nigeria is totally free of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease ravaging three West African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia). He also announced that the final victim contacts in the country who were under surveillance have all been released.

According to Prof Chukwu, "Presently, there is no single case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria - none. No cases are under treatment, no suspected cases. There are no contacts that are still under surveillance, having completed a minimum of 21 days of observation.

None of them are showing any symptoms. Tonight (Monday 22 September) will mark the end of their 21 days of observation and the plan is to get them discharged from surveillance tomorrow (Tuesday 23 September).

Nigeria will be as clean as any other country as far as Ebola virus is concerned".

The Ebola Virus disease was brought into Africa's most populous country by Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized American and Liberian Ministry of Finance official, who traveled to Lagos for a meeting of the Economic Commission of West African States in Calabar on July 23. Patrick Sawyer was reported to have had the symptoms of the disease before leaving Liberia. He therefore infected people he came in contact with and died in Lagos two days later.

After the index case, Nigeria has suffered only 21 cases of Ebola infections with eight deaths recorded.

As Nigeria has been able to successfully contain the virus, preventing stigmatization of those under surveillance, as well as the survivors is still a challenge.

Prof Chukwu said "Three terms became part of our lexicon: surveillance, quarantine, and isolation".

In the bid to explain the three terms, he said:

"Surveillance is sort of like house arrest. You don't criminalize them. The person is actually a victim, not a criminal. We monitor their movements, the rest of the family are counselled about what contact can and can't be done. We have contact with them everyday. You can imagine what this effort must have been like when we had 300 in Lagos and over 400 in Port Harcourt.

Only when those under surveillance show symptoms - a fever, whether it ends up being Ebola, yellow fever or malaria - they are put under quarantine.

This is the first time we are denying that individual the comfort of his own bed. We put him in separately from the isolation ward from those who are confirmed. If malaria, we discharge them to their doctor to be treated for malaria".

The Minister said that the Ebola survivors were not treated with any experimental drugs. He explained that contact tracing and early identification of cases were managed by isolating the patients and replacing fluids and electrolytes, and transfusion of blood when the necessity arose.

The minister also praised the WHO Director General, Margaret Chan for sending physicians to Nigeria.

"We only knew about Ebola virus through our medical books. We've never seen a single case of Ebola virus until this year. So we needed someone with practical experience who had seen the virus to come and train our doctors what to do and the rest, and then we took over.

It is important that we let the world know that WHO did well in sending us doctors with practical experience".

Peof Chukwu also mentioned that the Ministry of Health also worked with the CDC (Center for Disease Control), UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund), MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders) in managing the disease.

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Godwin Ibe

Medical Doctor (GP), IT professional, Web Designer, CELTA Certified Teacher of English, Economist and International Trade Marketer.

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