AFRICANGLOBE – Nearly 600 Nigerian health volunteers will be sent to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to help contain the Ebola outbreak in the three West African countries.
“Nigerian volunteers from different health professions have been registering with us, willing to join the international force that will go to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to help out with containment,” Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told reporters Thursday.
“As of now, 591 Nigerians have already registered with us in three registries we opened in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt,” he said.
In recent months, Ebola has killed at least 3,879 people in the West Africa region, according to the World Health Organization.
A tropical fever that first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ebola can be transmitted to humans from wild animals. It can also reportedly spread through contact with the body fluids of infected persons or of those who have died of the virus.
Chukwu said Nigeria had donated $500,000 each to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, along with $2 million to an anti-Ebola fund set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 16-state regional grouping.
The health minister reiterated that Nigeria currently has no documented cases of Ebola, whether infections or individuals under observation for possible infection.
Although Nigeria has been declared Ebola-free, civil society organizations have urged continued vigilance, in light of the fact that the country’s West African neighbors are still fighting the deadly virus.
Nigeria recorded its first case of Ebola on July 20 through a Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, who flew into the country carrying the virus before succumbing to the disease in a Lagos hospital.
At least seven Nigerians, all of whom had come into contact with Sawyer, eventually died of the virus: five in Lagos, where the index case was recorded, and two in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.