Nigeria, DR Congo Friendly: Eyes On Ebola Emergency Meeting
We love football, but we also love to be alive. This drive to stay alive is very strong in the mind of every Nigerian.
The time for Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to slug it out in a friendly football game is approaching, but the increasing cases of Ebola in the Central Africa country could force Nigerians to choose between having the players in Nigeria and facing the risk that the World Health Organization (WHO) is seeing.
Ebola in DRC has reached a new height and WHO is convening an emergency meeting on Friday.
The emergency meeting is to “consider the international risks” of the deadly Ebola virus disease, which has now moved to an urban area of DRC, despite attempts to contain it the outskirt that is resurfaced few weeks ago.
The more it spread, the more the chances of the disease sneaking out of the country and the fact that the team coming for the Nigeria friendly will come with fans, creates more concern.
It is scheduled to hold on May 28 in Port Harcourt.
One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of about 1.2 million, WHO confirmed on Thursday.
The latest case is raising fears that in spite of a rapid response by authorities, the outbreak has not been contained.
So far, 23 people have reportedly died and until Thursday, there were more than 40 suspected or confirmed cases.
The Ebola cases were all located in the area around Bikoro, close to the Congo River, and around 150 km- about 95 miles – from the provincial capital Mbandaka, which is a busy port city.
“This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola,” the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said.
“WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus,” Ghebreyesus added.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement: “The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning.
“WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area”.
The meeting of the Emergency Committee would decide whether to declare an official public health emergency, which would trigger more international involvement and free up more resources to deal with the outbreak.
Apart from WHO and other UN agencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as other humanitarian organisations, have teams on the ground, working to contain the outbreak.
The UN health agency is deploying around 30 experts to conduct surveillance in Mbandaka and is working with the DRC’s Ministry of Health advising communities on prevention, treatment and reporting of new cases.
Nigeria will need to keep its eyes on the country and its ears to the ground to ensure that the disease does not sneak into the nation with over 190 population.