(Background and quotes)
ABUJA Aug 8 Nigeria's President Goodluck
Jonathan declared a national state of emergency on Friday over
the Ebola outbreak in Africa's most populous country, and
approved 1.9 billion naira ($11.7 million) of emergency funds to
Nigeria has confirmed seven cases of Ebola in its commercial
capital Lagos since a man fell sick on arrival from Liberia, two
of whom have died. Several dozen people who came into contact
with the man are under surveillance.
Jonathan's spokesman Reuben Abati said the money would pay
to "strengthen steps to contain the virus such as ... additional
isolation centres, case management, contact tracing, deployment
of additional personnel, screening at borders, and the
procurement of required items and facilities".
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that West
Africa's Ebola epidemic constituted an international health
emergency and the virus, which has killed nearly 1,000 people,
could continue spreading for months.
The prospect of Ebola in Lagos, Africa's biggest city with
21 million people, has ratcheted up alarm about its spread.
Jonathan warned against "spreading false information about
Ebola which can lead to mass hysteria, panic and misdirection,
including unverified suggestions about the prevention,
treatment, cure and spread of the virus."
He also urged religious leaders to avoid holding large
gatherings that might spread the virus, a reference to the many
"megachurches" that can draw tens of thousands of faithful from
around the West Africa region to their services.
He asked schools to extend their summer holidays and "urged
that the movement of corpses from one community to the other,
and from overseas into the country should be stopped forthwith".
All deaths from sickness should be reported to the
authorities, he added. The state of emergency is expected to
stay in place until the outbreak is contained.
(1 US dollar = 162.7000 Nigerian naira)
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by
Robin Pomeroy and Crispian Balmer)