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Health ministry warns against complacency in Ebola fight

27 August 2014, 20:30

Abuja - The health minister on Wednesday warned against complacency in the country's fight against Ebola, despite only one patient remaining in hospital with the virus.

Onyebuchi Chukwu announced on Tuesday that two more people had been released from isolation, taking the total number of patients to have been successfully treated to seven. Five people have died in Nigeria since July 25.

But the minister cautioned against congratulatory headlines that suggested the virus had been eradicated in Africa's most populous nation and reports that parties had been thrown to celebrate.

Also read: Ebola: Nigerians advised to spread facts, not rumours

Instead, he said the country was "doing well on containment", likening the situation to trapping a wild animal in a cage.

"Nigeria has been successful at containment. But have we eliminated the disease? No," he told reporters in Abuja.

The World Health Organization has said it was encouraged by the fact that all confirmed cases of Ebola in Nigeria had come from a single chain of transmission and there had been no incidences of the virus outside Lagos.

Chukwu, however, said that "nothing stops someone coming with a fresh case" and that the patient currently in hospital needed to be managed and any contacts they may have had kept under surveillance.

"Until we give a clean bill of health to every contact, we cannot say we have eliminated the disease," he added, warning that it was "still possible" to have several more confirmed cases.

"Even if we have been able to discharge all contacts, as long there is one case of Ebola Virus Disease anywhere in the world and people are allowed to travel, every country in the world remains at risk."

He added: "We only stop being at risk when the very last case of Ebola Virus Disease under this current epidemic has gone."

Nigeria's Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau announced on Tuesday that both public and private schools would remain closed until October 13 as a precaution against Ebola.

Also read: Ebola: Schools shut down till further notice 

Students had been due to resume classes on September 15.

President Goodluck Jonathan had previously announced an extension to the summer break and Chukwu said he saw no contradiction in the measure as having large groups of children together could cause "problems".



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