Ebola is no longer a threat in Nigeria, the World Health Organization announced Monday, with more than a month having passed without a new case, Reuters reports.
“Nigeria is now free of Ebola,” World Health Organization representative Rui Gama Vaz told a news conference in the capital, Abuja, Reuters reported.
“This is a spectacular success story. … It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola,” Vaz said.
The West African nation was first threatened by the deadly virus, which is responsible for the deaths of more than 4,500 people across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, when a sick diplomat traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, from Liberia, Reuters notes. That diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, had to be restrained in order to be kept in the hospital, and the unprepared government did not have an isolation unit set up. As a result, he was able to infect a few people, Reuters reported.
However, Nigeria’s success in containing the virus is being credited to its rapid response and its containment of the virus. The government reportedly diligently tracked down the suspected cases in Sawyer’s primary and secondary contacts.
“Nigeria was not really prepared for the outbreak, but the swift response from the federal government, state governments [and] international organizations … was essential,” Samuel Matoka, Ebola operations manager in Nigeria for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told Reuters.
Contact tracing “was effective in identifying all suspected cases and keeping watch on them before they developed symptoms and infect[ed] other people. We were able to remove people from communities once they showed symptoms and [before they] infect[ed] many others," he added.
In total, only about 20 people contracted the virus, eight of whom died.
“If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this … any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases,” WHO Director Margaret Chan said in a statement.
Read more at Reuters.