Ebola: Nigeria bans corpses from Liberia, two other countries as Lagos wants borders closed

Ebola patient being attended to during the last outbreak

Following the scare caused by the return of a corpse suspected to have died of Ebola from Liberia, the Federal Government has placed a ban on the return of all corpses from three countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — worst hit by the pandemic.

Similarly, the Lagos State government has also appealed to the Federal Government to consider closing some of the country’s borders as a means of containing the spread of the disease.

The appeal by the Lagos State government, is coming after the Ghanaian authorities announced the ban of all flights from Nigeria and other West African countries as governments in West Africa scrambled to contain the spread of the disease that has killed almost a thousand people mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Announcing the ban during a press conference at the Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa, in company of the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Jide Idris, the Project Director of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Abdulsalami Nasidi, said the corpse was brought in from Liberia through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and taken to a private hospital in Anambra State by road.

He said while effort is still ongoing to identify all those who came in contact with the corpse, all those who accompanied the corpse from Lagos to Anambra and the workers at the mortuary that received the body have been quarantined.

“The dead body came into the country through Air Gambia. It was received in Lagos, precisely on July 21. From there, it was transported by road. It was received in a private mortuary,” he said.

“The federal government has issued a directive that we will henceforth not receive anybody or corpse from the West African coast especially from Liberia and others that were on red alert for Ebola virus.

“Mechanisms are in place to checkmate that. For instance, a plane was to come into the country with a corpse but the airport health officials rejected it. Our problem is the land border.

“But in order to have effective monitoring, we held a meeting today and how it will be done was stated. We shall be giving update very soon. These countries will be notified through the diplomatic channels that they should not allow any transportation of any dead corpse into Nigeria.”
The Anambra state government has however said initial testing suggested the corpse did not test positive to Ebola.

Also in a separate session with journalist, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, appealed to the federal Government to consider closing some of the country’s borders as the disease ravages the subregion.
“The virus is no longer a local, but an international problem. This is because
it is easily transmittable across the borders and boundaries,” he said.

“I think what the federal government need to do at this time is to consider the imperative of closing some of our borders. It is difficult to stop the epidemic. We must now choose the treaty obligations that we hold under the ECOWAS treaty to address the health issue.

“I think we should give it that attention. I think men and women who man our border posts –sea, air and land-especially the customs, now know that they are our first line of
defence.

“What happens going forward depends on how professionally our border officials act. It is prevention rather than calling the health professionals to quarantine people. That is really the strongest defence now against migration of the virus. We will continue to put out information about what the health risks are and the symptoms.”

Mr Fashola also justified the cremation of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American that died of Ebola virus in Lagos saying the disease could be contacted through the fluid from dead bodies.

“This is a health security and people must embrace contemporary hygiene standards. All the residents who had contacts with the dead Liberian have been tested and the result proved negative.

“But there is still risk because we had a dead body that was brought into the country from Liberia. This means there is still need for vigilance at our border posts. The officials at
these places should act professionally and report every incident they suspect,” he said.


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