Ebola: Fear Grips Villa Residents, Workers By Olalekan Adetayo
There is fear in the Villa over the spread of the dreaded Ebola virus. The fear became more pronounced on Wednesday when ministers gathered for the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting.
It all started like a joke with some ministers avoiding handshake with their colleagues, journalists and other government officials for the fear of contracting the disease.
The situation was further worsened with the arrival of the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in the Council Chambers venue of the meeting. Many ministers avoided him like a plague, though jokingly.
As it later turned out, the spread of the virus was the only item on the agenda of the meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo. His boss, Goodluck Jonathan, was at that time in Washington DC for the United States-African Leaders Summit.
Onyebuchi had briefed council members on the steps being taken by the Federal Government in conjunction with the Lagos State Government to stop the spread. The council therefore resolved that he should join the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, to brief State House correspondents of the meeting’s outcome.
It was at that point that it became clear that the fear was real. Onyebuchi, among other pieces of advice, urged Nigerians to avoid unnecessary handshakes if they could afford to do so. Apart from regular washing of hands with soap, the minister also encouraged citizens to cultivate the habit of using hand sanitisers. He said he had his own bottle of sanitiser inside his car.
At that point, Maku dipped his hand into the pocket of his agbada and brought out a bottle of sanitiser. To demonstrate it, he and Chukwu rubbed their hands with the substance. He also shared the content of the bottle with some journalists after the briefing. For him, he said he would only be raising his hands when greeting people.
One of the animals the Minister of Health mentioned as carriers of Ebola was bat. That also generated another round of fear. Many of the big trees inside the Villa are homes for bats. They fly around the Villa in their thousands. They pass out faeces on cars, leaving the owners with no option than to clean them.
Journalists called the attention of the minister to this and he was also surprised. He quickly hid his fear and assured the agitated journalists that those concerned will definitely do something about the bats as soon as possible.
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