The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Nigeria is at high risk of Ebola virus disease following the outbreak of the disease in Uganda.
The NCDC, in a release on Tuesday, signed by its Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, stated that it was on high alert, adding that “the likelihood of importation of the disease to Nigeria is high due to the increased air travel between Nigeria and Uganda, especially through Kenya’s Nairobi airport, a regional transport hub, and other neighbouring countries that share a direct border with Uganda.”
According to the NCDC, the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease was caused by the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus in Uganda as declared on September 20, 2022.
The statement reads, “The Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the virus in samples collected from a 24-year-old male who exhibited symptoms of the disease and later died as a result in Mubende District in the Central Region about 175km from the capital, Kampala. As of September 29, 2022, the Ugandan Ministry of Health has reported 54 cases (35 confirmed and 19 probable) and 25 deaths (seven confirmed and 18 probable). The Ugandan Ministry of Health with support from the WHO is working to effectively respond to and contain the spread of the virus.
“The NCDC-led multisectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Technical Working Group working with partners and stakeholders has conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities. The NEVHD TWG coordinates preparedness efforts for EVD and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases.
“Based on available data, the overall risk of importation of the Ebola virus and the impact on the health of Nigerians has been assessed as HIGH for the following reasons:
“The Sudan Ebola Virus does not currently have an effective drug for treatment or licensed vaccine for prevention.
“The extent of the outbreak in Uganda has not yet been ascertained as investigations have shown that some persons may have died with similar symptoms which were not reported to health authorities. In addition, their burials were not conducted safely to prevent transmission.
“The case fatality rate of the Sudan virus varied from 41% to 100% in past outbreaks.
“The likelihood of spread in Nigeria following importation is high due to the gatherings and travel associated with politics, the coming yuletide as well as other religious gatherings and festivals during the last few months of the year.”
However, the NCDC said, despite this risk assessment, Nigeria had the capacity – technical, human (health workforce), and diagnostic – to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak.
“Currently, no case of EVD has been reported in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the Nigerian government through the NCDC’s multisectoral NEVHD TWG has put several measures in place to prevent and prepare for immediate control of any outbreak of the disease in-country,” it noted, adding that the NCDC Incident Coordination Centre is now in alert mode.
“Passengers arriving from Uganda and persons who transited in Uganda are being followed up for 21 days of their arrival in Nigeria on their health status.
“Trained Rapid Response Teams are on standby to be deployed in the event of an outbreak.
“Public Health Emergency Operations Centres in states with major points of entry, that is, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, and Rivers states are on standby. A medical countermeasures plan is available.
“Amplification of risk communication and engagement with states and partners to strengthen preparedness activities which include– a review of risk communication protocols, plans, and messages in the event of an outbreak,” the NCDC added.