The Federal Government on Wednesday warned Nigerians not to be carried away with the news that the country now has only one established case of the Ebola Virus Disease, saying “we are still at risk.”
It also said despite the suspension of the strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Medical Association, the recent suspension of residency programmes in hospitals was still in force. Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Chukwu advised Nigerians to avoid moving from panic to euphoria since that could constitute an obstacle as the nation tackles the virus. He explained that while the country could be said to have been successful in containing the disease, it would be wrong to say the disease had been eliminated.
The minister pointed out that the fact that all the primary and secondary contacts of the index case, Patrick Sawyer, had been traced, did not stop any other infected person from other parts of the country from bringing the virus again. He added that though the country currently had an established case it was managing, it was not unlikely that the patient had her own contacts.
Chukwu said, “As we speak, there is a case we are still managing. And even that case we are still managing must also have had her own third degree contacts; many of whom are part of this number of people that are under surveillance.
“So, until we give a clean bill of health to every contact, we cannot even say we have eliminated the disease. “We will only stop being at risk when the very last case of EVD under this current epidemic has gone.
“There is still a chance one of the people under surveillance may fall sick and test positive “We have done well on containment but by no means have we eliminated the problem in Nigeria.”
He added that as long as there was still a case of Ebola in the world and people were allowed to travel, every country was at risk. The minister said by the definition of the World Health Organisation, one case constitutes an epidemic for Ebola and Lassa Fever because they are deadly.