The World Health Organisation (WHO) has formally declared Nigeria free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) brought into the country on July 20 by Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer.
Ruiz Gama Vaz, the WHO country representative, made the declaration on Monday morning at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre in Abuja.
But while making this declaration, Gama Vaz said Ebola remained a threat to the country because some west African countries were not free of the disease yet.
“Today October 20, 42 days after the last case of Ebola was reported, which is twice the incubation period, the chain of transmission has been broken,” he said.
“WHO officially declares that Nigeria is now free of Ebola. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated.
“This shows Ebola can be defeated in West Africa. However, the battle has been won but the war is not over yet since Ebola is still in West Africa.”
Gama Vaz thanked the Nigerian government for its effort to contain the Ebola, adding that the country had shown that the disease could be contained.
He also declared that guinea worm had been eradicated from Nigeria, noting that polio was on its way out of the country as well.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Paulina Harvey, a director at the Centre for Disease Control of the United States, applauded Nigeria for its successful fight against Ebola, describing it as a “remarkable achievement”.
Sawyer, the index case, collapsed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, claiming to be heading to Calabar, Cross Rivers state, for an ECOWAS conference.
But he was taken to First Consultants Hospital Obalende, where he was confirmed to be Ebola-positive.
However, before this discovery, some of the medical personnel who attended to him at different times – led by Dr. Stella Adadevoh (pictured) – had contracted the virus from him and would later die of it.
It subsequently emerged that Sawyer made several attempts to forcefully leave the hospital, but they were rebuffed because Adadevoh had given strict instructions against Sawyer’s discharge until the suspicion of Ebola was medically ascertained to be true or false.
Echelonu’s death was preceded by that of Jato Asihu Abdulqudir, a Kogi-born 36-year-old ECOWAS official who helped Sawyer with his personal effects at the airport.
Ebola also spread to Port Harcourt, after an infected ECOWAS official boycotted surveillance in Lagos and fled to the oil-rich city, where he was privately treated by a doctor. Although the original patient survived and fully recovered from the virus, the doctor contracted it and died.
Before the doctor died, an elderly patient at the hospital where he was receiving treatment contracted it as well. Like the doctor, she did not survive it.
In all, 20 people contracted Ebola in the country. While 12 survived, the remaining eight died.