The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has assured Nigerian that it remains fully committed to protecting the health of all Nigerians from infectious disease threats.In its latest public health advisory issued in Abuja on Friday, the agency said that it was aware of the declaration of an Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Guinea, on the 14th of February 2021. The cases and deaths were reported in the N’zerekore region of the country. The cases were detected among seven people who attended the burial of a nurse on the 1st of February 2021.
It noted that following the declaration of the outbreak, the Guinean government has initiated response activities, while the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa Centres for Disease Control (ACDC) and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) have announced that they are supporting the country’s response activities. The Government of Guinea has begun processes to access the global stockpile of vaccines for EVD, from the Vaccine International Coordinating Group (ICG).
It assured that the NCDC has an existing multisectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG). This group coordinates preparedness efforts for EVD and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases.
“The EVHDWG has carried out a risk assessment on the possibility of transmission of the virus to Nigeria. Given the proximity of Guinea to Nigeria and other West African countries as well as other indicators, Nigeria has been placed at moderate risk of an EVD outbreak. The outputs from this risk assessment are being used to initiate preparedness activities in-country.
“Several measures have been put in place to prevent and mitigate the impact of a potential EVD outbreak in Nigeria. A National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) operating from NCDC’s Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) is on alert mode. We have a team of first responders on standby, ready to be deployed within 24 hours in the event of an EVD outbreak in Nigeria. We have also established testing capacity for EVD at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory. The NCDC will continue working with states to strengthen preparedness activities across the country,” the advisory said.
The NCDC disclosed that the Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health has scaled up screening at points of entry, while it will also scale up risk communications and other activities.
It advised that the Ebola 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. This 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.
And to prevent the spread of Ebola, the NCDC advises members of the public to adhere to wash hands frequently using soap and water – use hand sanitisers when soap and water is 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 and ensure fruits and vegetables are properly washed and peeled before eating them.
It also advised healthcare workers to ensure universal precautions at all times, which include the use of personal protective equipment always when handling patients.
It recalled that in January 2021, the ICG announced the establishment of a vaccine stockpile for EVD and that this stockpile is accessible to countries, in the event of outbreaks.
“The NCDC will work with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to develop a clear plan for accessing the EVD vaccine stockpile, as needed.
“The NCDC will continue to monitor the situation and initiate preparedness activities across the country. We are in close contact with WHO, ACDC and WAHO for cross-border coordination. We urge members of the public to remain aware of the risks and adhere to all safety measures,” the advisory added.