US Denies Ebola Screening for Nigerian Passengers

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The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has categorically denied it is planning to carry out an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) screening for Nigerian passengers flying into the United States.

According to Tom Frieden, CDC director, any such proposition would be counterproductive in particular after the US has extolled Nigeria for its heroic battle against the spread of the virus.

Nigeria’s Ambassador  to the US, Professor Ade Adefuye who spoke with reporters after his contact with Frieden said the CDC was glad to collaborate with Nigeria after it had been certified Ebola free with commendation from the highest authority, in apparent reference to the executive branch of the government, and a front page report by the New York Times last Wednesday.

Frieden, according to Adefuye, said the US was so impressed with Nigeria’s ability to nip in the bud the spread of the disease that it proposed inviting Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu to the country for collaborative efforts by way of assistance with other countries using the AU as a platform.

However that plan was shelved when Chukwu announced Nigeria has donated $3 million to help fight the Ebola virus in the affected countries as well as collaborate with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in combating the virus.

The US therefore is prepared to work with Chukwu and the ECOWAS in its plan to assist affected countries in the effort to fight the virus. “The earlier plan to collaborate with Chukwu through the AU,” Frieden said, “has been shelved. The emphasis right now is on ECOWAS.”

Only last Tuesday after publicly stating it has discovered a case of EVD in Dallas, Texas, which it said was under control asking the public not to panic, the CDC said it was sending its personnel to study how Nigeria contained the killer disease.

According to Frieden in that report, the nation needed a quick and thorough response to its first Ebola patient.

He said although Nigeria was not completely out of the woods; “their extensive response to a single case of Ebola showed that control was possible with rapid, focused interventions.”

Frieden said “The best practices in Nigeria and Senegal suggest the U.S. should monitor all individuals who may have been exposed to Ebola and establish a dedicated management and response system.

Senegal has had no new reported cases of Ebola since Sept. 18 while Nigeria has not reported new ones since August 31”

The Associated Press report carried by reporters has jolted Nigerians in the US who gathered on Independence Day to celebrate the success of the country in fighting Ebola as well as recording a rising profile in the comity of nations at a time the Boko Haram insurgency has brought national morale to a low.

Said Frieden who later appeared on MSNBC friday about potentially prohibiting air travel between the U.S. and West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak is most widespread. And in response to a question on the risks of such plan: “ Restricting travel between the U.S. and West Africa would likely “backfire” and put Americans more at risk of contracting Ebola,”

Frieden added that that such a restriction would likely be ineffective and would make it harder for health officials to root out the virus.
“The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source” in West Africa, Frieden said

Adding to the debate in his interview with Politico Republican Senator Ted Cruz said: “Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work.

“People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.”
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n Texas, health officials screened up to 100 people in connection with Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan flew to the U.S. on Sept. 19, but the CDC said that he was screened before his flight in Monrovia and showed no symptoms of Ebola.

Health officials say his temperature was 97.3 degrees and that he was not contagious on the flight, meaning his fellow passengers were not at risk.

While in Liberia, Duncan had contact with a woman who had the virus and helped carry her from a taxi, according to The New York Times.
Also yesterday, Frieden said airport screenings are reducing risks. “There are a lot of checks in place. It’s not perfect.”

In several interviews and at a Thursday news briefing, the CDC director has expressed confidence that health officials will be able to contain the spread of the virus in the U.S.

On Thursday evening, NBC said a freelance journalist working for the network in Liberia had contracted Ebola and quarantined himself on Wednesday.

Earlier on Independence day, Nigerians had expressed joy that nipping the virus in the bud was evidence of a nation on the rise.
Chudi Ejikeme, a medical student at Maryland University noted that “at 54, we have made our mistakes and we are moving forward. We have our problems and the issue of Boko Haram and insurgency is global; with the support of the global community, we will succeed. In the next 200 years the sky will be the limit.”

His wife Mercy a registered nurse just like Dr. Theo Ogune a Nigerian-American lawyer practicing in both countries, noted that Nigeria may not be where it is supposed to be “but we are making progress. Our containment of Ebola has raised the perception on a positive note. The perception of Nigeria globally is rising,” with Ejikeme confident that Nigeria having come a long way can do better;” however the report brought mixed to them just like most residents in New York, Maryland and Washington most of whom had gathered for the October 1st celebration.

The commendation keeps rising with CNN Anderson Cooper and his guest on his 360 Degrees programme  giving the Nigerian health authorities high marks for combating a virus that has brought more nightmares to the world than the HIV/AIDS syndrome.

Also on Wednesday at an emergency meeting of the United Nations, Margaret Chan told participants to take a cue from the stable condition in Nigeria and Senegal.

According to Chan, “It will take some time, but the Ebola outbreak can be contained. Look at the stable situation in Nigeria and Senegal,”

Chan observed that the Ebola outbreak was the greatest challenge in peace time for the UN and its agencies till date with over 5000 infections and more than 2,500 others declared dead

In : Health, Nigeria

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