The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says Nigeria is at high risk of importing Ebola from Uganda.
Uganda had declared an outbreak of Ebola after a 24-year-old male exhibited symptoms of the disease, tested positive, and later died. As of September 29, the Uganda ministry of health has reported 54 cases (35 confirmed and 19 probable) and 25 deaths (seven confirmed and 18 probable).
In a statement on Tuesday, NCDC said its multi-sectoral national emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases technical working group (NEVHD TWG), in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, has conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities.
NCDC declared: “Based on available data, the overall risk of importation of the Ebola virus and the impact on the health of Nigerians has been assessed as high. The likelihood of importation to Nigeria is high due to the increased air travel between Nigeria and Uganda, especially through Kenya’s Nairobi airport, a regional transport hub, and other neighbouring countries that share a direct border with Uganda.
“The likelihood of spread in Nigeria following importation is high due to the gatherings and travel associated with politics, the coming yuletide as well as other religious gatherings and festivals during the last few months of the year.”
The NCDC, however, said despite the risk assessment, Nigeria has the capacity to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak.
The body added: “We have the diagnostic capacity to test for the EVD presently at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital’s Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology Laboratory. However, diagnostic capacity will be scaled up to other laboratories in cities with important Points of Entry (POE) and others as may be required.
“Currently, no case of EVD has been reported in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the Nigerian government through NCDC’s multisectoral NEVHD TWG has put several measures in place to prevent and prepare for immediate control of any outbreak of the disease in-country.”
The agency also advised Nigerians to avoid non-essential travel to locations where the outbreak is reported for the moment; avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids of people with suspected or confirmed Ebola; and call 6232 to ensure all persons with suspected symptoms of Ebola are promptly taken to designated healthcare facilities.