The remains of dead Nigerians, especially from countries battling Ebola virus will not be allowed to be brought into the country for burial, the Federal Government has said.
The Federal Government is also probing the corpse of a Nigerian that was brought into the country from Liberia last month to ascertain whether the deceased died of Ebola or not.
This was the position of the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Professor Abdulsalami Nasidi, on Friday in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
Nasidi said, “The Federal Government has issued a directive that no dead body should be brought into the country, especially from neighbouring infected countries in view of the rampaging Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“The order will be communicated to the affected countries through diplomatic channels”.
On the Nigerian that was brought into the country, Nasidi explained that the remains was brought into the country on 21 July, 2014 from Liberia and conveyed from Lagos to Anambra State and deposited in a private mortuary.
He said, “A team of experts, including those from the World Health Organisation, have been dispatched to Anambra State to investigate whether the deceased died of Ebola.
“All the handler of the corpse brought into the country from Liberia will be registered and tracked.
“Those who accompanied the corpse to Anambra and the mortuary handlers are in quarantine in Anambra State. Our team in Anambra State will give us the statistics of those who came in contact with the corpse tomorrow (Saturday).
“If the corpse in Anambra State tested positive, we have been given two options by the World Health Organisation. We can either cremate or bury it. For corpses that would be buried, they will be placed in a bag, disinfected, while the grave must be two meters deep”.
Nasidi added that so far, 70 contacts had been confirmed to have come in contact with Mr. Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who died of Ebola in Lagos recently, saying that the contacts were being closely monitored to see if they would develop Ebola-like symptoms.
He, however, disclosed that two of the contacts that were brought down with fever had been tested and found to have no traces of Ebola infection.
“But that does not mean that we will stop. We will continue to place them under observation until we are satisfied that they are free. They were part of the 70 established contacts. First, it was 59, it increased to 69 and yesterday (Thursday), we had another. And this increased the number to 70”, he said.
Nasidi warned that there was no specific cure for Ebola virus.
“We treat the symptoms. If we say that there is no cure, the patients will not come to the hospital. There is no specific drug for Ebola virus. But we can use other drugs to save an infected person. On early intervention, three out four cases survive but if they come late, one out of four survive”, he said.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said the government had stepped up measures to screen incoming passengers to Nigeria to identify any traveler with symptoms in airports, seaports and all border crossings.
He added, “Nigerians must remain vigilant and strengthen surveillance in order to identify potential cases of EVD so that care can be given both patients and their communities and protect the population.”
“An Ebola reporting system has been activated in order to facilitate early identification of suspected Ebola cases”.