Nigeria is free of Ebola, declares WHO
Nigeria is now officially free of the Ebola virus, according to a declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday.
The announcement comes six weeks after the last reported infection in the country. The WHO heaped praise on the health services of Africa’s most populous country, crediting the Nigerian response to Ebola as “world-class epidemiological detective work”.
John Vertefeuille, head of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: “Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale.”
WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital city of Abuja, echoed the significance of the declaration but emphasised the ongoing nature of the struggle against Ebola.
She said: “The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated. This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”
Since the initial outbreak and the infection of American-Liberian citizen Patrick Sawyer in July, Ebola has infected over 9,000 people and caused more than 4,500 deaths.
The Nigerian all-clear comes only three days after Senegal, on Africa’s Atlantic coast, was also declared Ebola-free.
The African Union Commission’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma highlighted the long-term effects of the Ebola epidemic on affected African nations. She said: “A lot of things are almost at a standstill. They are not going to be producing as much food as they would have produced, they are diverting some of the money for education to other things to stamp out the epidemic.”
Meanwhile, EU ministers are convening in Luxembourg to discuss strengthening the defense against the virus both in Africa and closer to home.
More than £400m has been committed to the fight against Ebola, with some UK ministers calling for the figure to be doubled. Medics from the British Army are among those travelling to West Africa from EU countries to combat the spread of the disease.
In the US, 43 of the people monitored following contact with Ebola, victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been given the all-clear upon completion of a 21-day incubation period. However, mayor of Dallas Mike Rawlings declared that 120 people are still being monitored for symptoms of the virus.
Thomas Rhys Jones