Nigeria asks for volunteers to halt Ebola spread

August 10, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

LAGOS: Nigeria appealed yesterday for volunteers to help halt the spread of Ebola and India took steps to tackle any outbreak of the deadly virus, as two of the world’s most populous countries reacted to the global health emergency.

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 1.9bn naira ($11.6m) 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 tomorrow 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. 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.