After an agonising wait the World Health Organisation has declared Nigeria to be free of Ebola. As the continent remains ravaged by the deadly disease, Nigeria can hopefully stand as a bastion of hope in containing this virus.
The containment of the virus has been called by the World Health Organisation a “spectacular success story” considering the overwhelmingly negative response throughout Africa. The announcement was made by the World Health Organisation’s representative for the country Rui Gama Vaz in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Nigeria had previously recorded 20 cases of Ebola nationwide, which would later include 8 deaths to the disease. Although the number of deaths by infection in Nigeria was 7, since the person who brought the disease to the country was an air passenger and died shortly after arriving.
The World Health Organisation made this announcement a full 42 days after the final case of Ebola in the country was deemed to be negative. 42 days being double the length of time the disease can conceivably incubate for in a human body.
“The outbreak in Nigeria has been contained,” Vaz said. “But we must be clear that we only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.” That may be the most important point that despite this being tremendous news Nigerians must remain vigilant in there avoidance of the disease. This also comes following the UK’s commitment to send £125 million to Africa to help combat the spread of the disease.
The World Health Organisation was able to trace all of the cases of Ebola in the country and found that all of the cases could be linked to the original passenger on the airline. The man was a Liberian, where the disease continues to claim lives, and arrived with symptoms and who would later pass away following the progression of the virus.
For an outbreak to be officially called either contained or over the WHO a committee on surveillance, epidemiology and lab testing is convened to determine if all conditions have been met. Thankfully in this case all the parameters were met.
Vaz warned that because of Nigeria’s position and the size of its borders the country, Africa’s most densely populated, would remain vulnerable to additional imported cases of Ebola. “Therefore there is the need to continue to work together with states to ensure adequate preparedness to rapidly respond, in case of any potential re-importation,” he said.
The disease continues to spread rapidly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and has claimed more than 4,500 lives.