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250 Nigerian medical workers on Ebola mission to Liberia return to heroic welcome



Ebola virus

The 250 member Nigerian Medical Corps that went to Liberia and Sierra Leone on a mission to fight the Ebola Virus Disease arrived Abuja on Sunday to a heroic welcome.

The team is made up of doctors, nurses, environmental health and psycho-social workers.

No member of the team was infected with the dreaded virus, officials assured.

The volunteers were part of a strong health team under African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) and left Nigeria early December 2014 after undergoing an intensive two-day training that prepared them for the task ahead.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia on May 9, 2015, meaning that 42 days (two incubation periods) had passed since the last Ebola patient was buried.

A chartered Ethiopia airplane that brought back the team, touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport 2.38 am yesterday and were welcomed by a cheering welcome party from the Ministry of Health and related government offices.

As they arrived to a joyous welcome, they displayed a commemorative plate from Liberian government with the inscription ‘The Love of Liberty’—a message of gratitude from the Liberian people.

The arrival formalities were short, and in no time, they moved through the sea of persons who had waited eagerly for over 7 hours to welcome them. They were then ushered to waiting vehicles and driven out. They are expected to be hosted to a welcome reception by President Goodluck Jonathan later.

Officials confirmed that no member of the team was infected by the virus while the interventions in the two countries lasted.

Indeed, they were said to have spelt between 26 to 42 days under inspection before they return to Nigeria.

Head of Port Health Services at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, noted however, that the team would be closely monitored for a while in line with professional protocols.

He said: “By the regulation they have all gone beyond the period [required for monitoring]but we shall apply the same scrutiny to give Nigerians the assurance that nobody is bringing in Ebola again.”

He added: “These are the most educated, experienced, exposed individuals in terms of knowledge of Ebola and how to fight it.”

Director of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission, Olawale Maiyegun noted that the volunteers followed protocol required for dealing with Ebola.

“We thank them for following our protocol. No contamination. They are an asset for Nigeria and an asset for Africa. Let us treat them as heroes and heroines. Nigeria is proud of them,” he stressed.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, noted that the threat posed by the disease in the sub-region has been suppressed.

He said: “We were able to do this through the collective undertaking of the entire pop of Nigeria. While you were there everybody prayed and wished you well. Everybody is looking on Africa today, that Africa solidarity initiative is working.”
One of the volunteer could not hide her joy at the success of the mission.

She said: “The first step to dealing with Ebola is to deal with fear. So we overcame fear and we triumphed.”

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