Ebola: What Cross River Government Should Do At This Critical Time BY RASHEED OLANREWAJU

In Breaking News, Health, National News, Reports

by crossriverwatch admin

Rasheed Olanrewaju  with the Director of the Drill Ranch, Calabar, Mrs. Elizabeth Liza
Rasheed Olanrewaju with the Director of the Drill Ranch, Calabar, Mrs. Elizabeth Liza

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans with an outbreak which has fatality cases rate of up to 90%.

The outbreak occurs primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests. The Virus According to WHO is transmitted to people from wild animals and spread in human population through human to human transmission.

Fruit Bats are considered to be the natural host of Ebola Virus. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name.

In Nigeria, not many people knew the virus until mid 2014 when the information spread about one confirmed case in Lagos which put Nigerian government into action. The Nigerian government then started sensitization in collaboration on how to prevent the spread.

On July 25, 2014, Patrick Sawyer a Liberian-American who came into Nigeria as a member of the Liberian delegation to an ECOWAS conference in Calabar died in Lagos. He was on his way to Calabar the Cross River state Capital but fell ill aboard an ASKY Airline plane ‎and was hospitalized in Lagos before his death five days after his arrival.

Since Sawyer was coming to Calabar, the Nigerian Capital City of Tourism, all attention was shifted to Cross River State.

No thanks to media reports which were credited to ECOWAS Vice President, Dr. Toga Gayewea who said “Delegation members, who had contact with Sawyer were in Calabar for the Conference.”

The statement widened the contact persons who are to be tracked because members of the delegation who had contact with Sawyer also had contact with other people at the conference who are also susceptible to the virus.

There is no dispute that the Ebola virus has entered Nigeria through Late Sawyer, but it appears some fifth columnist are behind the move to destroy the tourism economy of Cross River State which has been reputed to be one of the fastest growing in West Africa.

Cross River State is no doubt a rainforest region where wild animals like Monkeys and Apes find their natural abode.

According to thinkafricapress.com, carbon concession is a climate change mitigation strategy and as deliberate policy of the government, Cross River State, forest communities and businesses are agreeing plans to conserve trees which absorb dioxide rather than chopping them down.

The Nigerian Government has been benefitting from this natural habitat where monkeys and other wild animal reside in Cross River State with the recent approval of $4million from the United Nations through Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation, REDD program to conserve rainforest trees which animals like monkeys, apes and others found their home.

Instead of Cross River State to be given federal protection and commendation for all it has to make name for Nigeria in times like this, the enemies of the state have employed strategies to divert tourists who naturally found home in Cross River State as destination for leisure and business using Ebola and the ECOWAS meeting in Calabar as their point of reference.

However, what should Cross River State government do at this critical period‎?

As a government that respect and ‎value the media, I expect that the government should embark on a robust and aggressive media campaign to inform, sensitize and educate Cross Riverians, friends of Cross River State, tourists who have the state at heart and indeed the world that Cross River state is safe, healthy and free of Ebola virus.

The government should also intensify its effort by setting up monitoring centers across the land, air and its sea boarders to ‎allay the fears of visitors.

The health professionals bodies in Cross River‎ State should also up the ante by speaking up on what to do and necessary precautions to be taken.

Also the authorities should let the public know that the Drill Monkeys breeding in Cross River State ‎are safe, treated, harmless and not infected by the Ebola virus especially as some people are calling for the relocation of the Drill Ranch in Calabar back to the forest.

Hear the comment of the Director of the Drill Ranch, Calabar, Mrs. Elizabeth Liza, a white woman scholar who has been in Nigeria and Cross River state for twenty six years with her husband caring for wild animals and securing Nigerian forests.

“I’m frustrated and annoyed that so much attention is being wasted on the wrong things by the rumor mongering people. While this was going on, people were called out to drink salt water and getting sick.

“People are talking about monkeys and wild animals and when the focus of the government of Nigeria was to care for the people tested and confirmed in Lagos and make sure that every single person who have contact with them after their exposure be tracked down instead of peddling rumors.

“Cross River is a destination to a lot of people as a tourist state. It’s true that the person who brought Ebola to Nigeria was to come to Calabar for the ECOWAS meeting before he was stopped in Lagos which can be potentially dangerous for us in Calabar‎.

“Whether it’s here in Calabar, Lagos, Plateau or Kaduna, we don’t want any Nigerian to die of Ebola or any visitor to this country not to talk of animals and it’s a threat to them.

“The specie here is a Drill monkey and is one of the Africa rarest animal and can only be found in Cross River State in Nigeria, it has being living here millions of years ago and are fully protected by Federal law in Nigeria because they are heavily hunted which is one of the reason why in this part of the country people use to hunt and consume them‎.

“People have been living with these monkeys for several years, did they have Ebola?

“We know how Ebola came to Nigeria, it was through human and not monkeys because this monkeys have been living here for centuries.

“I have been with them for over 20 years, these monkeys if they have Ebola, I and my staff would have contacted the Ebola virus long time ago.

“Monkeys and Apes are like humans, the natural carriers according to scientists are flying fox and big bats.

“We shouldn’t even fear our bats here because they don’t have Ebola.‎

“Please know that no risk can come to Cross River State because there is no state in Nigeria without wild monkeys and nobody has dropped dead as a result of contact with wild animals. It’s safe to visit Cross River ‎.”

Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair, a journalist and public affairs commentator works with Galaxy Television as a Senior Correspondent in Calabar.

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