As the fear of the spread of Ebola virus grips Nigerians, Catholic churches in Lagos have suspended the Sign of peace, where the congregation shake hands during mass. Some Anglican churches have even suspended handshake during communion.
The Archbishop of Lagos, Adewale Martins released a statement to that effect insisting that while the handshakes have been suspended, congregations should henceforth stop the use of the same cup to take communion. He also said holy water bowls usually placed at the entrance of churches should be discontinued to contain the spread of the virus.
In the same vein, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh suspended shaking of hands during the exchange of the peace. He also suspended the age long mouth method of administering communion.
He said this is aimed at preventing the spread of the disease through physical contact. The leadership of the church has directed all their worship centres to instal sanitizers in their church premises. Development monitored on Sunday, August 17, 2014, across Lagos churches indicated a high rate of compliance among Christian faithful, they now wave one another instead of the traditional handshake and hug.
NIGERIA RECORDS FOUR EBOLA DEATHS
The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria rose to four during the week, while others infected with the virus are being treated in an isolated centre in Lagos.
Nigeria had earlier confirmed an 11th case but health ministry spokesman, Dan Nwomeh said that was an error due to ‘double counting’. “We actually have four deaths now and six who are under treatment,” he said on Thursday, August 14, 2014.
The first death recorded from the deadly virus was Liberian government employee, Patrick Sawyer, who brought the virus to Lagos, on July 20, 2014. He died on July 25, 2014, at First Consultants Medical Center, Lagos.
The other deaths included two medical workers who treated Sawyer at the hospital in Lagos and an employee of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr Jatto Asihu Abdulqudir, 36, who met Sawyer at the airport when he landed.
There has not been a case outside Lagos but there were fears that a nurse, who contracted Ebola from Sawyer at the hospital may have carried the virus to the key eastern city of Enugu. The nurse began showing symptoms after reaching her home in Enugu and was transported back to Lagos for treatment. Officials on Wednesday, August 13, said 21 people in Enugu who had contact with the nurse were being monitored.
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COST OF EBOLA
The news of the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria has taken it’s toll on the social and economic life of the people. Reports monitored on Sunday, August 17, 2014, indicated a low patronage of bush meat joints along Benin-Ore expressway. Sellers of bush meat on this road lamented loss of profit due to the boycott of their wares by travellers.
Also during the week, The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), announced the suspension of scheduled stream two orientation programme of the 2014 Batch ‘B’ Orientation in six states billed to start on Monday, September 1, 2014, due to the dreaded Ebola virus disease in the country. The Director General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Olawumi announced the decision in Kubwa Orientation Camp in the Federal Capital Territory, saying the corps members deployed to Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Borno, Gombe, and Yobe states will be affected by the directive.
Nigerian athletes to the World Youths Olympics in China were recalled from Beijing due to the level of discrimination being meted out to them in China over the Ebola virus. Authority at the sports ministry said that the Nigerian athletes there were being shunned and avoided by teams and officials from other nations, this has traumatised the athletes and officials hence the need to bring them back to Nigeria.
Lesotho, Nigeria’s opponent in the African Under-20 football competition forfeited their place after they were unable to travel to Nigeria to play in a qualifier on Saturday, August 16, 2014, because of fears over the Ebola virus.
The Lesotho government put a travel ban for people arriving from areas with Ebola cases, which prevented the team from leaving the capital, Maseru for Nigeria.
The Confederation of African Football stressed that Lesotho have forfeited the match and consequently their place in the competition. It means Nigeria qualify for next year’s African Under-20 Championship finals in Senegal. Lesotho were due to play Nigeria in Kaduna, but the hosts were handed a 3-0 walkover win by the Senegalese match officials.
Transborder trade between Nigeria and neighbouring countries have reduced drastically.
EBOLA VIRUS: FASHOLA ASSURES LAGOSIANS OF RESOLVE TO CONTAIN SPREAD, OVERCOME, DEFEAT DISEASE
In a statewide broadcast on Sunday, August 17, 2014, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola urged Lagosians not to panic as his administration is working round the clock to contain the deadly Ebola virus. He confirmed that 61 persons who have been under observation in the last 21 days have been discharged. He also debunked allegations of neglect of victims, rejection of useful drug, vaccine and shortage of fund.
Fashola said, “What is true is that we should perhaps never have been in this situation, but we are now in it. What is true is that the Ebola virus did not break out from Nigeria. It was imported into Nigeria.
“What is true is that we have followed all the contacts that we know who have had primary and secondary contacts with the patient who imported the virus into our state or with people who had contact with him. Government had to react to an unexpected situation, it had to react in a proper and methodical way according to acceptable global health standards.
“My view of the fact that we are gaining control is informed by verifiable facts that I receive daily from our health workers that all the cases of those who have either unfortunately died or those who are sick and those who are contacts under surveillance are directly traceable to the imported case.
The state is not yet at an epidemic stage of the disease and government is determined to do everything not to get to that stage.”
The governor added that contrary to the rumour that it lacks the resources to tackle the sudden challenge posed by the virus, the state has enough resources to fund everything that is needed, maintaining that the House of Assembly has also approved a request for any needed help. Ebola virus infection is not an automatic death sentence, the governor declared.
Fashola paid glowing tribute to health workers at the state and federal levels who, according to him, stood up to be counted as well as the leadership demonstrated by the state and federal ministries of health with the support of international partners.
“In spite of fear, they stood up to be counted at a time of grave danger. We salute their courage, professionalism, patriotism and humanitarian disposition. They are the heroes and heroines that we have looked for a long time. I cannot thank them enough, what they need now is encouragement and support to gain even stronger control of the situation.”
While he assured that government is doing everything to ensure the safety of the workers and give them confidence to continue their work, the governor appealed to Lagosians not to do anything to distract them or spread unnecessary rumours that could cause panic.
The governor, who acknowledged the concerns and anxiety of friends and relatives of sick victims, assured them of the concerted efforts of government also adding that the fact that they expect special care for their loved ones is both understandable and expected of them as friends and relatives.
“I assure you that they are receiving the best care that the experts have recommended to us, given the circumstances because they say that this is the best way to proceed, especially because experienced personnel in Ebola containment and management have always been a challenge”.
He called for additional medical personnel who are willing to volunteer to join hands with those at the frontline and also cautioned those seeking to make brisk business from the unfortunate situation to realize that this is not our way.
Fashola expressed appreciation to those who are seeking to raise funds for the current battle against the virus but pointed out that the state is not yet at the fund-raising stage and cannot foresee that eventually.
“For now, the state has enough resources to fund everything that is needed. This is what your taxes can do in emergencies. Our House of Assembly has thankfully approved a request for any needed expenditure, the governor said adding that. “The Federal Government has shown the appropriate level of concern about the national and global risk this poses and I am sure they will provide funds, should we be unable to do so if we ask for it”.
In his submission, Fashola appealed to residents to stop all unhygienic habits such as urinating or defecating in the open as they are fluids that spread the disease