Nigeria declared free of Ebola by the WHO

A Nigerian health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AP
A Nigerian health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AP
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NIGERIA has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the country’s capital, Abuja, said it was a “spectacular success story”.

Officials in Nigeria have been praised for their quick response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases. The last reported case in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – was discovered on 5 September.

“The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated,” Gama Vaz said. “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.”

The outbreak began in Nigeria when Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian citizen, was diagnosed in July. Nigeria declared a national public health emergency and Mr Sawyer later died of the disease, followed by seven Nigerians, including Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, who diagnosed Mr Sawyer and is credited with helping to contain the outbreak at its source.

In another development, US health officials said most of the people quarantined after coming into contact with Texas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear. The 21-day monitoring period applied to about 50 people.

Two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas became infected after treating Mr Duncan, who was from Liberia. He died on 8 October.

John Vertefeuille, from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said Nigerian officials had taken the right steps to contain the outbreak. “Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale. They acted aggressively, especially in terms of contact-tracing,” he added.

Also yesterday, a woman, who had recently returned from West Africa was rushed to hospital in Dublin as a precaution after displaying symptoms of the deadly disease and immediately placed in isolation. the Ebola virus was later ruled out.

In a statement Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive said: ‘There are no known cases of Ebola in Ireland presently’.

Outside West Africa, the spread of the disease has been confirmed in Spain and the United States.