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Nigeria prepares against Ebola outbreak as NCDC issues public advisory

By Chukwuma Muanya
02 November 2022   |   4:46 am
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), yesterday, said it has stepped up preparation against possible Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the country, following incidences in Uganda.

A building of the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) is pictured, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Lagos, Nigeria and other states. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), yesterday, said it has stepped up preparation against possible Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the country, following incidences in Uganda.

In a Public Health Advisory, signed by its Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, NCDC said it has been aware of ongoing outbreak of the Sudan strain of EVD in Uganda, since an official declaration on September 20, 2022.

As of October 29, 2022, the Ugandan Ministry of Health had reported 128 confirmed cases and 34 deaths.

According to the advisory, “the NCDC, through the National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Disease Technical Working Group, met on September 26, 2022 to assess the risk of importation of EVD to Nigeria and the potential impact to inform in-country preparedness activities.

“Based on available data and risk assessment conducted, Nigeria is at high risk of importation of the virus. This risk is due to the large volume of air travel between Nigeria and Uganda and the mixing of passengers, especially at the regional travel hubs of Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Kigali airports, and the additional risk from other neighbouring countries that share a direct border with Uganda, should cases arise in other countries in the region.”

The NCDC said output from this risk assessment is being used to initiate preparedness activities. It said several measures have been put in place to prevent and mitigate the impact of a potential EVD outbreak in Nigeria.

The advisory reads: “The NCDC Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) is now in alert mode. Development of an incident action plan for the first few cases of EVD has commenced.

“Point of Entry (POE) surveillance has been heightened using the passenger pre-boarding health declaration and screening form in the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP) platform.

“Passengers arriving from Uganda and persons who transited in Uganda are being followed up for 21 days after they arrive in Nigeria for their health status.

“Trained Rapid Response Teams are on standby to be deployed in the event of an outbreak.

“All State Public Health Emergency Operations Centres (PHEOCs) are in alert mode. A medical countermeasures plan is available.

“Amplification of risk communication and engagement with states and partners to strengthen preparedness activities, which include – a review of risk communication protocols, plans, and messages in the event of an outbreak.”

“Nigeria has an active infection prevention and control programme nationwide with guidelines and training packages developed for healthcare workers.”

NCDC said the Ebola virus is transmissible via direct contact with body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died of EVD.

The virus can enter the body stream through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. This can also be spread through contact with objects contaminated by infected persons, as well as direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats, monkeys or chimpanzees.

On the signs and symptoms, NCDC said: “Just like other types of Ebola virus, people infected with the Sudan strain cannot spread the disease until the development of symptoms. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to the virus but are typically eight to 10 days on average.”

The symptoms include: fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and internal and external bleeding.

To prevent the spread of Ebola, NCDC advises members of the public to adhere to the following precautions:
Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or use hand sanitisers when soap and water are not readily available, and your hand is not visibly soiled.

Avoid physical contact with anyone who has symptoms of an infection with an unknown diagnosis. Healthcare workers are advised to always adhere to standard precautions. This includes the use of personal protective equipment always when handling patients and always maintaining a high index of suspicion.

NCDC advised Nigerian citizens and residents to AVOID ALL BUT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL to Uganda for now, until public health authorities have determined the outbreak to be contained.

It said: “When travel to Uganda is unavoidable, travellers are advised to avoid contact with obviously sick persons or suspected cases of Ebola.”