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Ebola Outbreak: Surveillance At Nation’s Borders By FG

The Ministry of Health was directed by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday to step up surveillance at all the nation’s entry points to prevent the spread of Ebola to the country following the outbreak of the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the council’s meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo stood in for President Muhammadu Buhari who left the country on Tuesday for London, United Kingdom where he is scheduled to meet his doctors.

Adewole said, “Of great concern to the FEC is the outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo. As you might be aware, over the last one month, DRC recorded 19 suspected cases of viral haemorrhagic fever and lost 16 of the cases.

“What is also particularly important was that on Monday, blood samples from five patients in the DRC, particularly in a particular district in the DRC, were taken. In two of the five cases, Ebola was actually confirmed.

“FEC has now directed the Ministry of Health to step up emergency surveillance activities at all land and air borders so that we can keep Nigerians safe.”

He also disclosed that an emergency operation centre would be set up.

“Not only that, we will be screening incoming passengers, particularly passengers from the DRC and neigbouring countries. We will also ensure we step up all activities screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control will also consider sending a team to the DRC as part of building capacity for managing the outbreak. We want to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government is concerned about the outbreak and will do everything possible to keep the country safe,” he added.

Adewole also said he presented an update on the state of public health in the country to the council.

“We reported on the situation with Lassa fever and declared that we are declaring the emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak over.

“Essentially, that implies that the emergency operating centre would be stood down. Instead of meeting every day throughout the country, they will now meet once a week. They will still continue surveillance so that if there are cases anywhere in the country, we can quickly detect it and then treat it appropriately,” he said.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the council approved N1.4bn for the procurement of equipment for the completion of control towers for six airports located in Maiduguri, Akure, Benin, Ilorin, Kaduna and Ibadan.

The procurement, he explained, would enhance communications and security of the nation’s airspace.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, spoke on the significance of Buhari’s recent meeting with the United States President Donald Trump.

He said, “One of the strongest brands that this country has is Mr. President. By the level of invitations he has been receiving, all the major heads of states want to meet with him.

“I think this is recognition of the weight of his person, his integrity and his leadership qualities. This is something we, as a country, have to be extremely proud of. We saw that when he went to the United States and the respect Mr. Trump has for him.

“He was extremely focused on Nigeria’s interest during that visit. He wanted the US to help him and this country to achieve those priority areas – security, corruption and revamping the economy.”

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