Health

NCDC says Nigeria on high risk of Ebola outbreak

 

Appolonia Adeyemi

 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the overall risk of importation of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) into Nigeria has been assessed as high.

According to a statement on Alert Mode Following the Outbreak of EVD detected in Uganda, the NCDC has alerted Nigerians that the likelihood of importation to Nigeria is high due to the increased air travel between Nigeria and Uganda, especially through Kenya’s Nairobi airport, a regional transport hub, and other neighbouring countries that share a direct border with Uganda.

In addition, the Agency stated that the likelihood of Ebola spread in Nigeria following importation is high due to the gatherings and travel associated with politics, the coming yuletide as well as other religious gatherings and festivals during the last few months of the year.

However, the NCDC noted that the Ebola virus does not currently have an effective drug for treatment or licensed vaccine for prevention.

Despite this risk assessment, Nigeria has the capacity – technical, human (health workforce), and diagnostic – to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak.

“This is exemplified by our successful response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, as well as improvements in our capacity for health emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have the diagnostic capacity to test for the EVD presently at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the Lagos

University Teaching Hospital’s Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology Laboratory.

“However, diagnostic capacity will be scaled up to other laboratories in cities with important Points of Entry (POE) and others as may be required. An effective response system is in place with the availability of control capacities (trained rapid response teams, and an effective infection prevention and control programme) to limit the risk of spread in the event of a single imported case,” the NCDC said.

Currently, the NCDC stated that there is no case of EVD reported in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the Nigerian government through NCDC’s has put several measures in place to prevent and prepare for immediate control of any outbreak of the disease in-country. These include: the NCDC Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) which is now in alert mode, the development of an incident action plan for the first few cases of EVD has commenced, among other measures.

The extent of the outbreak in Uganda has not yet been ascertained as investigations have shown that some persons may have died with similar symptoms which were not reported to health authorities. In addition, their burials were not conducted safely to prevent transmission.

 

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