The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) are clearly not taking any chances, as the deadly Ebola Virus Disease rears its ugly head again in neighbouring countries of Central and East Africa respectively. The centre in making sure that Nigeria is well prepared for any eventuality decided to conduct a risk assessment exercise on the overall risk of importation of the virus into the country, and the result they have said is low risk.
In a statement released on Sunday 16th June 2019 by Dr Joshua Obasanya who is the Director, Prevention and Programmes’ Coordination of NCDC, said that following a preliminary risk assessment conducted by NCDC, the overall risk of importation of Ebola Virus Disease to Nigeria from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda is low.
He further stated that NCDC is monitoring the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and recent cases in Uganda.
“The Nigeria Ebola Preparedness team, coordinated by the NCDC, has conducted a preliminary risk assessment following the recent confirmation of EVD in Kasese District of Uganda.
On 11th of June 2019, the Ugandan Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of EVD in Kasese District, at the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The index case was a 5-year old boy who fell ill after a visit to Mabalako Health Zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attend the burial of his grandfather, a confirmed EVD case, who died in the community on 1st of June 2019.
As at 12th June 2019, the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) has confirmed three (03) cases of EVD and one (01) death recorded. A total of eight contacts have been identified and are being closely monitored. As at 14th June 2019, ring vaccination for high-risk contacts and frontline healthcare workers is currently ongoing. The district task force on EVD, a national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), WHO Uganda Country Office and Partners are supporting the response in the country.
Outbreaks of EVD are known to bear the risk of international spread hence the rationale for continual evaluation of Nigeria’s potential risk amidst regional trade and flight route within the region. Based on available data, the overall risk of importation of EVD to Nigeria remains low. This is also in line with the WHO’s risk assessment for Nigeria. There are no direct commercial flights and no known direct trade routes to Nigeria from Uganda. The current transmission pathway of the disease in Uganda is through unmanned land borders and further away from the capitals of both Uganda and Nigeria.
However, the Nigeria Ebola Preparedness Team has put in place several measures to ensure adequate preparedness. Our national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), situated at the Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) in NCDC Abuja, is functional and currently in Alert Mode for EVD. Our team of national first responders are on standby and ready for deployment within 24 hours when the need arises. Public Health EOCs (PHEOCs) in States where major points of entry are located (Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt) are also on standby. We have improved point-of-entry screenings in major airports; the Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health is on alert and has heightened screening measures at entry points at our ports.” he said.
On treatment and isolation facilities, he said:
“Designated treatment centres and isolation facilities have been identified. Nigeria currently has the in-country capacity for the diagnosis of EVD within NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories. Our risk communications technical working group has developed an All Infectious Diseases Risk Communication Plan, and coordinates with a network of media houses and Health Educators in all States for prompt information dissemination. There are currently ongoing Infection Prevention Control (IPC) programs nationwide, including the development of new guidelines, as well as training packages for health care workers to mitigate transmission.
Ebola Virus Disease, also known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) or simply Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by Ebola viruses. It is caused by an infection with one of five known Ebola virus species, four of which can cause disease in humans. The virus can be transmitted via direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD. The virus can enter the body stream through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth and 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 or primates” he said.
Ways of prevention he said:
To prevent the spread of Ebola, the NCDC advises members of the public to adhere to the following precautions:
• Wash your hands frequently using soap and water – use hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available
• Avoid direct handling of dead wild animals
• Avoid physical contact with anyone who has possible symptoms of an infection with an unknown diagnosis
• Make sure fruit and vegetables are properly washed and peeled before you eat them
“Health care workers are advised to ensure universal precautions at all times. This includes the use of personal protective equipment always when handling patients.
The NCDC is working closely with colleagues at the World Health Organisation Nigeria Country Office, who is in close contact with WHO African Region and Ministries of Health in Uganda and DR Congo, to determine the risk of spread to other African countries. Our multi-sectoral technical working group has heightened situational awareness of the ongoing outbreak in both countries.
NCDC remains fully committed and capable of protecting the health of all Nigerians from infectious disease outbreaks.”