Monday, October 20, 2014

EBOLA-FREE NIGERIA DIDN'T SEAL ITS BORDERS

Time's Alexandra Sifferlin reports good Ebola news:
The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday, a containment victory in an outbreak that has stymied other countries' response efforts....

For the WHO to declare Nigeria as Ebola-free, the country had to make it 42 days with no new cases ..., verify that it actively sought out all possible contacts, and show negative test results for any suspected cases....

Nigeria had 20 cases of Ebola after a Liberian-American man named Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos and collapsed at the airport. Health care workers treating Sawyer were infected, and as it spread it ultimately killed eight people, a low number next to the thousands of cases and deaths in other countries....
Sifferlin notes that Nigeria did a lot of things well, getting doctors trained early (by the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders) and declaring a health emergency immediately.

But Nigeria didn't seal its borders:
Keeping borders open. Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. "Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness," Shuaib said. "When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem." Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola.
Let me just remind you that Nigeria shares a continent with eleven other countries where Ebola has been detected:



We share a continent with no such countries. In fact, there are no such countries in the Western Hemisphere.

And yet the majority of Americans want the borders sealed. It wasn't done in Nigeria -- and it wasn't necessary.

7 comments:

Philo Vaihinger said...

Liberia and Sierra Leone sealed their own land borders abutting anybody. Nigeria would not allow flights in, for a while. Nigeria does not abut any country with a current Ebola problem.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Sorry to see you have gone over to the Administration side on the travel restrictions issue.

Expert opinion, as so often on things that matter, is divided and we are left with whatever passes for "common sense" and good intentions.

Cross your fingers.

Steve M. said...

Liberia and Sierra Leone sealed their own land borders abutting anybody.

Yeah? How's that working out?

Nigeria does not abut any country with a current Ebola problem.

And the U.S. does?

Aunt Snow said...

you have gone over to the Administration side

And also to the "side" of professional public health authorities. What are your public health credentials, Philo?

Arjay said...

I don't have much to say specifically on the wisdom of closing borders, it's really, really stupid and totally contra common sense -- as so many have already noted. Thanks, Steve, though for some really good evidence. I was struck by the comment: "Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness..." It reminds of comment that Paul Krugman made not long after the financial meltdown -- he was talking about "learned helplessness" when it comes to economic policy. It's a way of bolstering the status quo and hindering progressive policies. But it applies equally to the CDC and contagion. That's the politics of today: troll, troll, troll til we unlearn all the lessons of self-government. I don't think the right will stop until the Enlightenment has been pulled up root and branch. If it takes ebola to do it, well, so be it.

Yastreblyansky said...

According to the map, Mali abuts three Ebola countries, Cameroon three, Central African Republic three, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Guinea-Bissau two each, and many more one...

Asking people if they've visited Liberia, Sierra Leon, or Guinea in the past four weeks seems like a sensible idea, even if some passengers don't tell the truth. The point is not to stop travel, which is impossible, but to know as much as possible where travelers are, which you won't if you force border-crossers underground.

chuckwalla said...

Yes, professionals who say "You can transmit it on the bus, you cannot catch it on the bus". Brilliance in anyones book.