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Ebola: No evidence of infection in corpse repatriated from Congo – FG, Lagos assure Nigerians

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Prof. Isaac Adewole
Minister of Health
Dr. Jide Idris
Lagos State Commissioner of Health

Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jide Idris today announced that there was no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections in the remains of a Nigerian repatriated from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kenya Airways had flown in the corpse on Saturday May 21, against the Federal Government’s ban on the repatriation of human remains into the country in all points of entry as a precautionary measure to avoid importation of the deadly Ebola virus infection which has been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a joint Press briefing today at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaaac Adewole who was represented by Dr. Joshua Obasanya and the Commissioner decried the breach of the regulation by the airline saying the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had been notified while detailed investigations had commenced by all relevant agencies of government to determine the immediate and remote intentions of “this unfortunate behaviour.”

“The Federal Government of Nigeria and relevant agencies condemn this deliberate breach. In with Industry practice a report has been made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Regulatory agency of the Nigerian Aviation Industry on the occurrence. Necessary steps are being taken by the Regulatory Authority to sanction the airline in a bid to prevent future occurrences,’’ Dr. Idris said.

He declared that the ban against the repatriation of human remains into the country in all points of entry is still  in force and vowed that any attempt to contravene it would  attract serious sanction. Dr. Idris further said:

“The Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole and myself took some pre-emptive decisions to avert any possible outbreak after the said breach. The officials of Port Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Ministry of Health investigated the cause of death of the human remains and took samples for laboratory investigation.

“We are happy to inform Nigerians that the laboratory report showed that there is no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections in this human remains. We assure everyone to go about their normal business without any anxiety. Government will want everyone to be vigilant and encourage all our officials at land, sea and air borders to continue screening of international passengers.

“Recently, the World Health Organisation alerted the whole World on the recent outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo. Nigeria is keenly following this unfolding event at our sister country. The Government of Nigeria wishes the Government of DRC success in her fight against this unfortunate outbreak.

“It is pertinent to note, that prior to this event, Lagos State government has put in place the following control measures:

  • The Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers in all the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs, and health workers in public and private health facilities have been placed on alert.
  • Health workers are to be given refresher training.
  • The isolation wards in the Mainland hospital and other health facilities have been reactivated.
  • Awareness campaign is been sustained.
  • Infection prevention and control commodities are being restocked

“Also, Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Port Health Services have developed a public health emergency contingency plan at the airport and land borders.

“I wish to reiterate the need for the citizenry to follow the general health promotion and disease prevention measures. These measures include:

  • Basic environmental sanitation, including proper disposal of refuse, avoiding open defecation etc.
  • Regular hand washing with soap and water
  • Maintaining personal hygiene.
  • Adequate nutrition

In conclusion, Government will want to appeal to all our international passengers to cooperate with our officials who are conducting screening at all our borders. This surveillance shall continue until further notice. All international carriers are also enjoined to cooperate with all relevant agencies of Government to ensure unhindered surveillance.”

Also speaking, Dr. Obasanya disclosed that a letter of investigation had been forwarded to Kenya Airline to establish why the airline flew a dead body from DRC into Nigeria without the necessary approval.

He said if it was found that the airline breached the necessary protocols, it would be sanctioned appropriately, saying that the government was waiting for the airline’s response to the letter.

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