NCDC: How We Averted Ebola Scare

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has given details of how it made a daring move to avert what would have caused national panic over Ebola outbreak last month when its officials intercepted a passenger traveling through the Lagos airport, on suspicion of being infected with the Ebola disease. Although there is presently no confirmed case of Ebola infection in any part of Nigeria but the deadly disease is still causing havoc in the Democratic Republic of Congo and countries bordering it.

The NCDC weekly situation report said: “on the 17th of June 2019, a passenger traveling through the Lagos airport fell ill and was immediately suspected for Ebola. While this turned out to be false, it provided an opportunity for NCDC, Port Health Services and other partners to test the country’s level of preparedness”

It said the passenger who fell ill while in transit was immediately isolated and taken to a facility for screening for possible Ebola infection..

According to the report, the passenger who came in with a fever was immediately detected and isolated, and managed under strict infection prevention and control measures. In addition, NCDC, PHS, World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners carried out a risk assessment immediately to define response activities as needed. The Permanent Secretary of Health quickly issued a press release and led a high-level delegation of staff from the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC, to Lagos state

In the report issued by the NCDC last week, it assured that it will continue to work with sister agencies and partners to ensure Nigeria is prepared to prevent, quickly detect and respond to an Ebola outbreak.

The ‘Ebola scare’ in June 2019, provided an opportunity for a simulation that highlighted gaps and strengths in the country’s level of preparedness. NCDC’s capacity has improved, with ability to detect the virus in the National Reference Laboratory, trained human resource for outbreak response and highly pathogenic infection management, an Incident Coordination Centre for response coordination, risk communications and other aspects.
NCDC said it remains committed to working with the parent Ministry and partners, to ensure Nigeria is prepared in the event of an outbreak.