LIKE a big masquerade, the arrival of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Nigeria on July 21, this year, has continued to evoke fear and trepidation across the country ever since. The fear was heightened because EVD is a no-nonsense killer. It takes a minimum of two days and a maximum of 21 days for the virus to incubate in the human body before it deals a fatal blow on the patient. Even though the disease had landed in neighbouring West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since February, and had been wreaking health havocs there, it appeared Nigerian authorities never believed that EVD was real. To them, what is not real can never come to Nigeria. This viewpoint, probably, explained why the country’s sea and airports as well as international land borders were left naked. It took the arrival of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian government official, with the disease, for our make-belief posture to be shattered.
Unfortunately, the arrival of Sawyer with EVD has brought avoidable death of three persons including a matron and a nurse working in First Foundation Hospital, Lagos, where he was undergoing treatment before his death on July 25. But for the patriotic stance of the hospital management which prevented the deceased from proceeding to Calabar to attend an ECOWAS meeting scheduled to hold at the Cross River State capital, EVD, would have spread like wild fire across the country. The government there might not have gotten the resources needed for quick containment of the disease as was the case in Lagos. Even then, a total of 198 persons, who had primary and secondary contacts with Sawyer, are currently quarantined and put under strict observation.
Apparently rattled by the development, President Jonathan has risen to the Ebola challenge and has announced a lot of measures to contain its spread. Similarly, the World Health Organisation, WHO, is also mobilizing global efforts to tackle it. For this reason, it has approved the use of trial drugs for the treatment of the deadly disease. In fact, it took the arrival of Ebola in Nigeria to spur up local and international research institutes and pharmaceutical companies to find appropriate drugs that can not only cure but help to eliminate EVD from the face of the earth. The efforts to tame Ebola is the subject of our cover story for this week entitled “Nigeria’s All-Out War Against Ebola.” It’s a very comprehensive story put together by Olu Ojewale, our general editor. Happy reading.
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— Aug. 25, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT