Despite the West African state recording its 19th confirmed case, of which 15 cases are in Lagos and four others in Port Harcourt, the country has been commended by the United Nation for its efforts in tackling the Ebola epidemic.
“We have been dealing with the Ebola situation in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NCDC [Nigeria Centre for Disease Control]. We are in agreement with what they have suggested. Right now as you can see we have achieved a lot and now we only have a problem with the contacts under surveillance,” Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Khaliru Alhassan told CNBC Africa.
About 377 contacts are under surveillance in Port Harcourt, the oil capital in the south region of the country for signs of the disease after they came in contact with the a doctor who was infected with the virus and did not disclose to anyone. Meanwhile in Lagos, where the disease first appeared 27 people are under surveillance.
“We feel that the next six months will be quite a good time to declare [the country to be Ebola free] but we are not out of the woods yet. We need to ensure everyone is properly screened and back in the community,” Alhassan said.
So far 339 contacts previously under observation have been discharged having completed 21 days of observation in Lagos including five people from the Port Harcourt’s isolation centre.
“We have been taking that leadership position from day one. You may recall this outbreak of Ebola started in December 2013 and off course it became apparent that Liberia and other countries are having challenges financially and with human capital. So Nigeria was the first country to donate 3.5 million US dollars to Liberia to strengthen the health system. We are proud to continue with that and we have offered to train their personnel to build their capacity,” Alhassan noted.
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The Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 2,000 lives and has infected at least 4,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. Liberia is the country hardest hit by the West African Ebola epidemic which has killed 1,089 people. The country’s 14 of 15 counties have reported confirmed cases.
The WHO warned that the number of infected people could rise to 20,000 people before the epidemic is brought under control.