According to the Telegraph,
To prevent an outbreak of the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD), the Federal Government yesterday approved the extension of the current holiday of primary and secondary schools across the country until further notice.
The development, government stated, is part of measures to curb the spread of Ebola. Also, the National Council on Health (NCH) has banned the inter-state transportation of corpses with immediate effect.
To address the global emergency, the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday approved the use of untested experimental drugs to treat the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Students Matters, Comrade Jude Imagwe, who disclosed the postponement of school resumption in Abuja yesterday did not state how long the students would be on holiday. He said that President Goodluck Jonathan was wary of the danger of the disease to the nation’s future generation and as a result ordered that the schools remained on holiday till the country find a way out of the outbreak.
“He advised that as a President, he did not desire that our secondary and primary schools should be opened at this time because we have high population of young brothers and sisters who want to see themselves grow from primary and graduate tomorrow. “We cannot have what it takes to have eye on each of these brothers and sisters: the future of this country in their classes,” he said.
He spoke at a one-day forum on Tertiary Institutions Students Health Insurance Programme organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and NHIS. Imagwe, who charged Nigerians to be conscious of their environment as well as maintain healthy lifestyle in the face of Ebola outbreak, also cautioned against the use of untested and unscientific drugs as a prevention or cure to the virus.
While advising Nigerians to value their life and those of others around them, Imagwe also berated those suspected to have the virus and had been put under surveillance but escaped.
This, he noted, constitutes great health risk to many unsuspecting Nigerians. The WHO said at a news conference in Geneva yesterday that the use of untested drugs was ethical, provided certain conditions were met.
The drug, ZMapp, has only been tested on monkeys and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans.
The organisation had on August 11 convened a consultation of experts to consider and assess the ethical implications for clinical decision-making of the potential use of unregistered interventions.
The panel said any provision of experimental Ebola medicines would require “informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.”
The WHO statement said: “In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”
The ethics meeting was called after experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, made by U.S. biotech company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, was given to two American health workers infected with Ebola in Liberia.
Two batches of experimental treatments were reported to be heading to Liberia yesterday, the first delivery of untested Ebola drugs in Africa. The UN health agency said more than 1000 people had died so far from the illness in West Africa, with authorities recording 1,848 suspected or confirmed cases.
The virus, spread by direct contact with bodily fluids, was detected in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and possibly Nigeria.
Two Americans and a Spanish priest, who contracted Ebola in Liberia, had received a dose of the treatment never tested in humans. The Americans have showed signs of improvement but the priest died yesterday.
Meanwhile, the National Council on Health (NCH) has banned the transportation of corpses from one state to another with immediate effect. This decision was reached yesterday during an emergency meeting of NCH held in Abuja which lasted for about 10 hours.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who is the chairman of the council, said the ban is to curtail further spread of the virus.
The minister said that any person wishing to transport the remains of the family member must get approval from the Federal Ministry of Health and all the necessary test must be done on the corpse to make sure that the dead is free of Ebola.
The resolution of the NCH, read by the minister, states: “Council directed the transportation of corpses into Nigeria as well as inter-state transportation be banned until further notice except with the approved waivers that may be issued by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Council directed federal, state ministries of health as well as health and human service secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to provide adequate incentives to health workers who participate in the management of EVD patients to encourage them to be active in the containment of the EVD.
“The Council further directed that they should be provided with life insurance coverage. Council directed that the Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should re-circulate protocols and SOPs for management of EVD victims while Federal Government should provide specifications and support states with special Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“Council directed Navy, Customs and Immigration services to collaborate with the Port Health Services to strengthen boarder monitoring and patrol for EVD.
“Council directed the Federal Government to make whole body scanners available at all the designated Port of Entry; it also directed that the Federal Government should assist states to establish isolation tents that should cater for at least 20 people.
“Council urges the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to suspend its strike forthwith and contribute its quota in the ongoing response to this national health emergency.”
Director, Port Health Service at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Sani Gwarzo, disclosed that they have strengthened all the border areas with adequate equipment and also health workers for screening.
“The Port Health Service is providing equal level of surveillance services in all the entering points; land, air and sea. We have a thermometer which we use in screening.
This thermometer can detect people with high temperature which when we probe further we can know if it is probable case of Ebola virus or any other sickness,” he explained. Gwarzo lamented the shortage of health workers in the Port and said that the agency is in deficit of above 1000 workers.
President Jonathan has called on West African leaders to evolve collaborative strategies that would help control and contain Ebola within the sub-region.
He said through such deliberate effort can help in checking its spread and further threat to human lives.
The President stated this yesterday while receiving the new Ambassador of Guinea to Nigeria, Mr. Gaoussou Toure, who presented his letters of credence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He commended the containment measures so far taken by West African countries that have been affected by the disease, stressing that more concerted intra-regional cooperation and action needs to be developed.
“A problem that affects one of us affects all. We may need to come together as a region to strengthen our containment measures. I am however pleased that serious measures are being taken to control the spread of the disease,” Jonathan said.
Also speaking at separate audience after receiving letters of credence from the new Ambassador of Germany, Michael Peter Zenner, and Torben Antonio Gettermann, the new Ambassador of Denmark, President Jonathan stated that the days of electoral violence in Nigeria are over and that the 2015 general election will be free and fair.