LAGOS: Nigeria yesterday said it has trained 800 volunteers to fight Ebola as fears rose that the worst-ever outbreak of the deadly disease could spread across Africa’s most populous nation.
Authorities in Nigeria’s megacity Lagos last week appealed for volunteers to make up for a shortage of medical personnel because of a six-week doctors’ strike over pay. “People have heeded our call for service,” said Hakeem Bello, a spokesman for Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola.
“We have trained some 800 volunteers in the area of contact tracing, sensitisation and treatment of the Ebola disease.”
Four people have died and six more are infected by Ebola in Nigeria as part of the worst-ever outbreak of the deadly virus, which has killed 1,145 people across west Africa this year.
Experts say Ebola is raging out of control in the region, and the UN World Health Organization has declared the epidemic an international health emergency and appealed for global aid.
The disease erupted in the forested zone straddling the borders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia earlier this year and spread to Nigeria last month.
The districts of Kailahun and Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone have become the new epicentres of the outbreak, with charities and health authorities there scrambling to contain the spread of the disease.
“You cannot mess about here: this virus will kill you. One mistake, one wrong move, and you’re dead — that’s it,” a senior aid worker in Kailahun told AFP.
But officials fear an outbreak in the key regional hub of Nigeria could be far more dangerous, and US health authorities pledged this month to send extra personnel and resources to Africa’s most populous country.