Ebola Update: Nigerian health minister calls for calm, borders to remain open


Nigeria will take stringent measures to keep the Ebola virus under control, but its borders will however remain open.

“It has been confirmed this [Ebola] case that has been brought into the country by an American-Liberian national, who was in the country officially on a ECOWAS mission. Despite the advice given to him by his home country, he managed to come to Lagos,” Nigeria Minister of State for Health Khaliru Alhassan told CNBC Africa.

Alhassan, who had been a part of a press conference in Abuja on Nigeria’s efforts to curb Ebola’s spread, added that the country had taken all the international precautions to get to the bottom of the problem. Ambassadors from Liberia, Guinea and the United States were also present at the press conference.


Alhassan explained that the Nigerian government had additionally enlisted the help of the World Health Organisation, The United Nations Children’s Fund and other agencies as part of a rapid response team.

(READ MORE: World Bank sets emergency fund to curb Ebola)

Extraordinary measures have however been taken to ensure that Ebola remains controlled, such as the blocking of corpses without proper documentation from entering the country.

“At Wednesday’s executive council meeting, it was unanimously agreed that henceforth corpses must be properly documented with clear cause of death, otherwise they will not be allowed into the country. We have encouraged Nigerians to bury their dead where they died,” said Alhassan.

In an additional effort to control the outbreak, Nigeria’s ministry of health had requested the help of the United States government for ZMapp, an experimental serum that is currently being used to treat two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus.

Alhassan explained that The US government has however been unable to fulfil the request because of the trial nature of the drug.

“We all know that this drug is currently under trial. It has not been tested on any human being prior to these two Americans, and it’s always been laboratory tested. It’s a great risk, taking it to give to a human being without being properly tested. Therefore it’s not a surprise that the US government has taken that decision. However, that is not stopping us from also looking inwards,” said Alhassan.

(READ MORE: Containing the Ebola virus)

Meanwhile, the Lagos state government has been pushing for a close of its borders, but such a measure, according to Alhassan, is not currently a part of the agenda.

“We felt that by closing our borders, people will go underground. There are a lot of porous borders where there are no proper checks and balances. People will resort to underground [travel], and we have no proper screening [for that]. Therefore as of now, all our borders will remain open. We have recruited more staff that are going to be deployed to all those porous areas,” Alhassan explained.