Friday, October 24, 2014

WHO Declares Nigeria Ebola-free, Hails Spectacular Feat

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Nigeria Ebola-free after 42 days or double the incubation period of 21 days with no new case.

The world body confirmed this on Monday, through its country director in Abuja, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, describing the nation's exemplary handling of the outbreak as a "spectacular success story".

Nigeria has won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, brought the disease to Lagos in July. At the last count, Nigeria recorded 19 cases of the virus, out of which seven died, amongst them doctors and nurses. 

The disease has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. An estimated 70 per cent of those infected have died in those countries. "The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated," Gama Vaz said.

"This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle; the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola," he added.

The WHO director pointed out that the lines on the tabular situation reports sent to WHO each day by its country office in Nigeria, have now been full of zeros for 42 days. "The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail. 

"I will like to take this opportunity on behalf of the WHO Director General, Margeret Chan, to congratulate the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan, the people of Nigeria and all stakeholders and development partners that made it possible to contain the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria," he said.

According to him, when the laboratory confirmation of the first Ebola case in Lagos was announced on the 23rd of July, the news rocked public health communities all around the world, sending fears that the virus might spiral among the large chunk of Nigeria's population, the largest in Africa.

Gama Vaz recalled that the world was worried because Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa but also the newest economic power house, adding that the population of Lagos which is around 21 million people is almost as large as the populations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone combined.

The WHO country director stated that there is the need to continue to share Nigeria's experience and expertise to help other countries to urgently contain the Ebola epidemic and support others in their preparedness and response plans.

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