Ebola: Nigeria bans transport of corpses across borders

2014-08-10 16:35
A Nigerian health official wearing a protective suit waits to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

A Nigerian health official wearing a protective suit waits to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

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Dakar - Nigeria's health ministry has banned the transport of corpses across national and state borders, an attempt to halt an Ebola outbreak that has killed almost 1 000 in West Africa, local newspaper Leadership reported on Sunday.

"We institute control measures. Henceforth dead bodies will not be allowed to be transported from one part of the country to another," federal state minister for health in northern Kano State, Khalliru Alhassan, was quoted as saying.

That means people who die of Ebola will have to be buried in the community where they die, with no option for the body to be transported back to their home. The ruling will especially hit Nigerians dying in Ebola-affected Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, Alhassan added.

Two people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. Seven others are infected with the virus, while six suspected cases are yet to be confirmed. About 70 people are under surveillance.

Meanwhile, Spanish Ebola patient Miguel Pajares - who was infected in Liberia - is set to be treated in Madrid with the experimental drug ZMapp, the health ministry said on Sunday.

Doctors requested an exemption to import the drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, from Geneva. The medication is already at the hospital where the 75-year-old priest is receiving treatment.


The condition of two American Ebola patients improved after being treated with ZMapp. However, it remains unclear if this was based on the drug or on other treatment they also received. It is also unknown if ZMapp has long-term side effects.

The priest's condition is currently stable: He did not have a fever and was not bleeding, his brother, Emilio Pajares, told state-owned news agency Efe.

In Germany, a Sierra Leonean suspected of being infected with Ebola and quarantined in the German city of Hamburg tested negative, a spokesperson of Uni-Klinikum Eppendorf told dpa on Sunday.

The man, who had been admitted to hospital on Saturday afternoon with a fever and vomiting, was released from quarantine on Sunday morning.

The West Africa nation of Guinea, where the virus was first detected in January, closed its borders on Saturday to halt the spread of Ebola.

The government, however, refused, to declare a national emergency, even though the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency this week and called on the four affected nations - Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - to announce emergencies.

"The state of emergency is not necessary in Guinea because the Ebola outbreak is under control," said health ministry spokesperson Colonel Remy Lamah.

Guinea has the majority of Ebola cases, according to the WHO, with 495 suspected or confirmed cases and 367 deaths by 7 August.

Neighbouring Senegal on Saturday reported its first suspected Ebola case, in the country's north.

The patient is a 27-year-old Malian currently awaiting his test results, said Doudou Sene, chief physician at the medical centre in the northern town of Matam, where the patient is isolated.

A total of 1 779 Ebola cases and 961 deaths have been reported so far, according to the WHO.

There is no cure for Ebola, which causes massive haemorrhaging, and no proven vaccine to prevent the disease.

Ebola has a fatality rate of 90% and is transmitted through blood and other body fluids.

Read more on:    who  |  liberia  |  guinea  |  sierra leone  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  ebola

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