Foreigners flee Rivers over Ebola

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Foreigners have been fleeing Rivers State following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that recently hit Port Harcourt, the state capital.

The foreigners fled the state in droves out of the fear of contracting the Ebola virus.

The foreigners, with their fully-loaded bags and members of their families, stormed the Port Harcourt International Airport to board flights to their various countries.

One of our correspondents, who saw them while arriving at the airport in chartered vehicles, noticed that they were filling some forms whose contents were only known to them.

Before the foreigners decided to flee Port Harcourt, they had been seen wearing face masks to prevent being affected by the virus.

One of the foreigners, who declined to give his name said that the spread of the Ebola virus informed the decision to return to their countries.

“I am afraid here. I want to go to my country because there is no cure for Ebola,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said during the week said that a total number of 255 were currently under surveillance in Port Harcourt for signs of Ebola.

The minister’s claim might have heightened the foreigners’ fears thus necessitating their decision to flee the city.

The World Health Organisation also warned that the Ebola virus could spread wider and faster in Port Harcourt than that of Lagos State where the virus claimed its first victim.

The United Nations health body said the arrival of the virus in Port Harcourt, which is 435 kilometres (270 miles) east of Lagos, showed “multiple high-risk opportunities for transmission of the virus to others.”

This, according to experts, could have also heightened the fears of the foreigners who decided to flee the city.

The foreigners’ decision to flee Port Harcourt, however, shocked the Rivers State Government as it described the action as needless.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, said that the action of the foreigners was unnecessary.

Parker said the fear expressed by the foreigners was unfounded, adding that the state was doing everything to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.

He said, “My advice is that people should not panic. We are doing everything to safeguard the people in Rivers State. We have 98 per cent coverage of the contacts, which is a good pass mark so far and by now, as I am speaking, the people who are on the field may have covered everybody.

“So, nobody should panic. Those leaving Rivers State out of panic should know that it is unnecessary. I don’t know who they are; I don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going.”

He expressed surprise that the foreigners were wearing face and surgical masks when the state and the country had sensitised the people that the Ebola virus was not an airborne disease.

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