The Federal Government has ordered health workers to intensify screening of passengers coming into the country as part of deliberate efforts to check possible spread of Ebola virus.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which was presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Nigeria was hit with the deadly virus in 2014 when a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, entered the country with the disease, causing its spread across the country with many deaths recorded.
Adewole, however, stated that the acting president had directed relevant government agencies to intensify surveillance to avoid a recurrence.
The minister said “we are aware of the outbreak of Ebola in DRC in the last couple of days. There are implications for this because one single case can trigger a public health alert.
“For us as a country, we need to step up now. Fortunately for us, Ebola is not indigenous to Nigeria. For us to have Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, it has to be imported.
“And so, what we need to do is to step up preparedness at all borders: land, sea and air, to ensure that we quickly identify a probable case, offer additional screening and quarantine.
“The Acting President directed that we should step up activities at the border points and I did visit the port health services at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to confirm that surveillance activities are ongoing.”
The minister announced that the ministry had already inaugurated an Ebola Preparedness Working Group to be chaired Dr Basanyi.
Basanyi led the Nigerian contingent to Liberia for the Ebola control programme.
Adewole also revealed that he briefed FEC on the current state of meningitis outbreak in some parts of the country.
He said, “With respect to meningitis, FEC also received communication from the Minister of Health with regards to current state of meningitis.
“We are in week 19 and we are happy to inform the nation that the number of new cases has been dropping since the last five weeks.
“We are happy that we are getting almost to the end of the outbreak. Our main challenge is how to handle those already infected and so, we have two medical teams in the two states mostly affected — Zamfara and Sokoto States.”
Also briefing correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakub, briefed the Council on ongoing voters registration.
“We invited the chairman of INEC to address council on the ongoing voters registration and to know the challenges he is facing.
“The import of the exercise and I think Council was very satisfied with the presentation.
“First, he made it known that this is the first time that we are going to have a real Continuous Voters Registration. Not the one that comes on before election or registration that goes on only in some parts of the country.
“He also explained why it is not possible for the exercise to be conducted on polling unit basis because we have about 119,000 plus polling units.’’
According to the minister, INEC needs a minimum of five personnel to man each of the polling unit and the cost cannot be accommodated by the commission’s budget.
“Of course, the next preferred option would have been to take it to the local government which again, because of paucity of funds, it could not be accommodated. That’s why they are doing it at the local government basis.
“But the important thing is that it is continuous. It will go on for the next 90 days and then continue for another 90 days.’’