Nigeria’s health minister has warned against complacency in the country’s fight against Ebola, despite only one patient remaining in hospital isolation with the virus.
Onyebuchi Chukwu said Tuesday that two more people had been released from isolation, taking the total number of patients successfully treated for the deadly virus to seven. Five people have died in Nigeria since July 25.
But the minister yesterday cautioned against congratulatory headlines that suggested the virus had been eradicated in Africa’s most populous nation and reports that parties had been thrown to celebrate.
Instead, he said the country was ‘doing well’ at containing the spread of Ebola, likening the situation to trapping a wild animal in a cage.
“Nigeria has been successful at containment. But have we eliminated the disease? No,” he told reporters in Abuja.
Authorities in west Africa are scrambling to contain the worst outbreak of the lethal tropical virus in history, which has killed more than 1,400 people since it erupted early this year.
Nigeria’s government on Tuesday ordered all schools to stay shut until October 13 as a precaution against Ebola.
The World Health Organisation has previously said it was encouraged by the fact that all confirmed cases of Ebola in Nigeria had come from a single chain of transmission and there had been no incidences outside Lagos.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola, and told him that the country would ‘remain vigilant to guard against further cases’.
“All hands have been on deck to contain the virus here,” said Jonathan. “We have been able to set politics aside and work in unison to deal with a national threat.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation and we will also support other affected African countries as much as we can because we cannot be completely safe from the virus as long as it continues to ravage some countries in our sub-region and continent.”
Jonathan also hit out at what he said was the ‘stigmatisation’ of Nigerians because of Ebola, highlighting that the country’s team had been forced to withdraw from the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
Such ‘discriminatory actions’ were unjustified, he added.
Nabarro, who has visited the three countries worst hit by Ebola — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon applauded Nigeria’s ‘successful containment of the virus’.