Nigeria has been declared Ebola free, but it’s been a rough ride to that place. The virus was first detected in Lagos and the Federal State Governments went into action trying to contain it. Contacts were traced and placed under observation. Some ended up in the isolation unit and only a few made it. When it looked as though things were calming down, a doctor died of the Ebola virus in Port Harcourt; he had secretly been treating an Ebola patient and he ended up getting the disease. Strangely, the patient survived it.
As residents of this country, we all felt the effect. There was the fear and the panic and then the bitter kola and the salt. Rumours began to spread that eating bitter kola could keep one safe from being infected by the virus. The demand for the bitter nut skyrocketed and it practically disappeared off the streets. THEN someone passed on an SMS that went viral and the message was clear: drinking salt and bathing with salt will keep you safe from the ebola virus. The repercussions were felt from the North to the South as people ended up in the hospital due to salt ingestion. Some even lost their lives. Nigerians became very hygiene conscious and proprietors of establishments became very generous with hand sanitizer.
The education sector was not spared either as school resumption was pushed forward by several weeks. Even after it was ascertained that no new case of Ebola had been found in the country, some states decided to wait a bit longer before schools could resume.
With all these, there is no doubt that Nigeria has been extremely lucky. We hear stories and watch news of how the Ebola virus is ravaging our neigbhours; countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone are still battling with the dreaded virus. The quick action of our health officers probably saved our lives. We know for a fact that one Doctor paid the ultimate price while trying to keep the virus from spreading.
Thankfully, the storm has blown past and both the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have declared Nigeria free of Ebola. We are not being complascent about this though and the hand sanitizers are still everywhere. And when you get into the Murtala Mohammed Airport – local and international – expect to be subjected to a scan.
Ebola in the US
The first case of Ebola was discovered in the U.S. A man who traveled from Liberia to Texas fell ill and was later diagnosed with the Ebola virus. This time around though, the man turned himself in, unlike the case we had in Nigeria. The U.S. government has sent health workers to Nigeria to study how we were able to keep the virus in check.
GE and Ebola
Several organizations and corporate entities are not pitching in to fight this Ebola thing. The Director of Doctors without Borders has been everywhere for months, insisting that it is a global problem. Finally, others are agreeing with her. One of such is the infrastructure giant, General Electric, who recently released 2 million US Dollars to fight Ebola. With funds and people, we will win the war against this deadly virus.
Takeaway From Ebola
From the way the crisis was handled, most Nigerians were proud of their country. We now know that in the face of a crisis, we have capable hands. We also know that Nigerians can organize themselves when they have to do so.
If there’s anything we take away from this, it’s to practice proper hygiene. Wash your hands as often as you can and always after going to the toilet. If you’ve been out of your house, wash your hands as soon as you get in. Also, where there’s no water, sanitize. Simple things, but so vital.