News / Africa

Nigeria Using Facebook, Twitter to Inform People About Ebola

FILE - Men read newspapers with headlines about the Ebola Virus in Lagos, Nigeria.
FILE - Men read newspapers with headlines about the Ebola Virus in Lagos, Nigeria.
Heather Murdock

The Nigerian government says communication is its first line of defense against Ebola.  With no known cure and new fears about a potentially infected corpse found at a mortuary, health officials are Facebooking, Tweeting and writing radio jingles in an effort to reach everyone in Africa's most populous country.  Their main message is “Wash your hands.”

If there can be such a thing as “good news” about Ebola, there was good news in Nigeria on Thursday. 

“At the moment there has not been any single additional incident of infection that has been reported.  And this is important because we are beginning to see some panic reports, particularly within the social media," Minister of Information Labaran Maku said.

Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
x
Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014

The only known Ebola death in Nigeria was Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who died in Lagos two weeks ago.  The 69 people known to have had contact with Sawyer are all being monitored.  Two are in quarantine.  
 
The more time that passes with no new infections, the more likely it is that Sawyer didn’t pass Ebola to anyone in Nigeria.
 
Precautionary measures

But new fears are rising.   
 
In an interview with a local television station, Anambra State Health Commissioner Joe said police have shut down a mortuary in his state, fearing the body of a man who died in Liberia, and was transported to be buried in Nigeria, was infected with Ebola.  Mortuary workers have been isolated as a “precaution” as they await results of blood tests from the body.
 
In neighboring Delta State, residents of Warri, a crowded, chaotic oil city, say they fear an Ebola outbreak in Anambra would quickly reach them.  
 
The rapidly spreading disease has killed more than 700 people this year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
 
Most at risk

Mike Igini, who runs a medical lab in Warri, says the most frightening thing about Ebola is that medical workers are the most likely to get infected.
 
“There is much fear and there is apprehension already because we don’t know whether it’s going to spread to this place very soon or even if it’s already.  Though no major case has been reported, there is fear all over the place," said Igini.
 
Alleviating fears, he says, would require a massive education campaign that lets everyone know how to protect themselves from getting infected.  And officials say that is exactly what they’re doing. 
 
“We are adopting different channels to reach out to the people, the traditional media, radio and television.  We’ve agreed on programs in the next couple of days to weeks, you will see programs on television," Minister Maku said.
 
Facebook, Twitter, Mobile

Health officials are also posting information about how the disease spreads and numbers to call for questions or to report illness on their Facebook page, that are being Tweeted by other agencies, like the Nigerian Police.  
 

And while about half of all Nigerians don’t have access to electricity, let alone Twitter, next week officials say Ebola information will be sent to people’s mobile phones.
 
And the messages they will send are fairly simple.  Health officials urge people to avoid handling bats or primates or eating unregulated “bush meat.”  Most importantly, they say, the public is urged to wash their hands after touching people or surfaces, especially in a hospital.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant along the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation mixes disinfectant before spraying it on the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant inside a government building to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets to prevent panic as fears of the deadly Ebola virus spread in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets in an attempt to control public fears of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • An Ebola public awareness campaign utilitzes a billboard with the face of Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Monrovia, Liberia, July 31, 2014. 
  • A Liberian military police truck with information on the prevention of Ebola patrols through the city, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers patrol the streets on foot and in vehicles to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • Liberian soldiers in a medical truck with a posted sign on it that reads 'Ebola Must Go,' as it drives around the city to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Center for Disease Control photo showing an Aeromedical Biological Containment System which looks like a sealed isolation tent intended for Ebola air transportation, July 31, 2014.

 

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid