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Nigeria Calls on Volunteers to Halt Ebola Spread

by Kathy Jones on August 10, 2014 at 5:31 PM
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 Nigeria Calls on Volunteers to Halt Ebola Spread

Two of the world's most populous countries have reacted to the global health emergency posed by Ebola as Nigeria appealed for volunteers to help halt the spread of Ebola and India took steps to tackle any outbreak of the deadly virus.

Authorities in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, said they needed volunteers because of a shortage of medical personnel.


"I won't lie about that," Lagos state health commissioner, Jide Idris, said on television.

Lagos, home to some 20 million people, has recorded nine confirmed cases of Ebola, including two deaths.

In the capital Abuja on Friday, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan declared the Ebola crisis a national emergency and approved the immediate release of 1.9 billion naira ($11.6 million, 8.7 million euros) to fund efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The money will finance additional centres to isolate Ebola patients, screen arrivals at borders, trace those exposed to the virus, and boost public awareness.

A meeting will be held in Abuja on Monday to discuss strategies to curb the spread of Ebola, which has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in four west Africa nations: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The other three countries have also declared states of emergency.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan, declaring the epidemic a global health emergency, said in Geneva Friday it was the worst of its kind in four decades.

The WHO appealed for international aid to help afflicted countries after a rare meeting of the UN health body's emergency committee, which urged screening of all people flying out of affected countries in west Africa.

It stopped short of calling for global travel restrictions, urging airlines to take strict precautions while continuing to fly to the west African countries hit by the outbreak.

And it called on countries around the globe to be prepared to "detect, investigate and manage" Ebola cases if they should arise.

In India, a country of 1.25 billion people, airports went on alert and the government opened an emergency helpline Saturday as part of measures to tackle any outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in the country.

India, the world's second most populous country, has nearly 45,000 nationals living in the four Ebola-affected west African nations, and health officials said there was a possibility of some of them returning to their home country if the outbreak worsens.

India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement the country has "put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems" for the hemorrhagic virus.

- 'No need to panic' -

"There is no need to panic," Vardhan said, calling the risk of Ebola cases in India "low".

Back in Nigeria, Jonathan has urged people to avoid large gatherings to help prevent the spread of the virus, which causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

Spread by close contact with an infected person through bodily fluids such as sweat, blood and tissue, Ebola can fell victims within days.

The president also warned against spreading false information about Ebola "which can lead to mass hysteria, panic and misdirection, including unverified suggestions about prevention, treatment, cure and spread of the virus."

Local media reported Saturday that two people had died in Nigeria's central Plateau state and about 20 have been hospitalised after they ingested an excessive amount of salt which they believed could prevent Ebola.

Federal Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu dismissed the salt and water solution as "total rubbish".

Meanwhile, Chantal Pascaline, a Congolese nun who worked with Spanish Catholic missionaries in Liberia, died of Ebola early Saturday in the capital of Monrovia, the charity she worked for said in Madrid.

Pascaline worked with Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, 75, who left Liberia on Thursday and returned to Spain to receive treatment after contracting Ebola.

- 'Africans should get new drug' -

As African nations struggled with the scale of the epidemic, the scientists who discovered the virus in 1976 have called for an experimental drug being used on two infected Americans to be made available to Africans.

The two Americans, who worked for aid agencies in Liberia before returning to the United States for treatment, have shown signs of improvement since being given ZMapp, made by US company Mapp Pharmaceuticals.

There is no proven treatment or cure for Ebola and the use of the experimental drug has sparked an ethical debate. The WHO is planning a special meeting next week to discuss the issue.

US regulators meanwhile loosened restrictions on another experimental drug which may allow it to be tried on infected patients in Africa.

In Canada, a hospital put a patient in isolation after he arrived in the country from Nigeria, local media said.

A doctor at the Brampton, Ontario hospital, near Toronto, said the patient had a fever and other symptoms similar to those seen in Ebola cases, the news channel CP24 said.

Source: AFP


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