by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
The Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu has clarified that Nigeria can only be declared Ebola virus disease free by October 20. this followed the confusion in the Nigerian public over when the country can be officially declared EVD-Free and what it connotes.
Although there is no single case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country and not a single contact still under surveillance, by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) protocol, the health authorities can only epidemiologically declare the country free of the outbreak on october 20.
Chukwu who spoke with THISDAY on the matter, said the date is calculated as 42 days (that is, 21 days multiplied by 2) after the last case of EVD was discharged from the hospital.
This is why the international media and WHO declares that the country has ‘nearly contained’ the disease. The Minister explained.
“Like I said in my speech two weeks ago at the UN General Assembly, as long as there is a single case of Ebola in any part of the world, every country is at risk.
“So this is really theoretical and countries would still have to take the necessary precautionary measures to guard against the outbreak of the virus in their territories.
“As you can see what happened in Texas, where we have a Liberian who flew in with the disease, although he was not symptomatic at the time he arrived the US.
“We also have a large Nigerian community in Texas, so we could still be at risk if a Nigerian contracts it from that place and comes home with it undetected. It is a risk that every country faces as long as other countries continue to combat Ebola outbreaks.”