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Friday, 8 August 2014

ECOWAS Suspends Meeting Over Ebola Outbreak


The Economic Community Of West Africa States Commission (ECOWAS) on Thursday suspended all its meetings with member states following the outbreak of the Ebola virus in some West African countries.Toga McIntosh, ECOWAS Commission Vice President made this known to NAN reporter at a briefing organised by the Nigerian government for the diplomatic corps on Ebola outbreak in Abuja.McIntosh said the management of the commission took the decision as a precautionary measure to check the spread of the virus, assuring that meetings that were very essential will be held, but declined to disclose further information on the decision.
We know that all of our meetings bring together, stakeholders from the member states. So, on August 4, when we had our management meeting we took a decision to suspend all meetings that will bring us together from our various countries. Lets watch this spread and lets see how this will go down, and then thereafter, we can see how we can proceed. Except if the meeting is so essential and we are well guided we will approve he said.The Vice-president also used the medium to commend the Lagos State government, the hospital that treated Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian, as well as Nigerian media for their support to contain and combat the deadly disease.ECOWAS is sad that the disease is spreading like wildfire in our community, he said, and condoled with families and West African countries that have lost their citizens to the Ebola virus.It would be recalled that 40-year-old Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian and American, died of the virus in Lagos, after he flew in from Monrovia to attend an ECOWAS meeting in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State.The commission further revealed that all staff including the driver and protocol officers who had contact with Sawyer before his death have been placed under surveillance. He said the Lagos State government has been ordered to fumigate ECOWAS office in the state as well as the vehicle used by Sawyer, adding that the office will remain closed till fumigation is done.McIntosh further stated that the commission had also set up a taskforce to monitor all information on Ebola and also establish a hotline for enquiries and emergencies. He urged member states and the international community to contribute to a special fund established by the regional bloc to fight the disease.However, President Goodluck Jonathan was among the first to donate the sum of three million dollars in support of three Ebola-stricken West African countries.The contributions breakdown shows that one million dollars will go Guinea; 500,000 dollars to Sierra Leone; 500,000 dollars to Liberia and one million dollars to the ECOWAS Pool Fund for Ebola.ECOWAS community has a challenge; that challenge goes beyond the health sector. It requires a collective approach to put our commitment together and deal with this destructive element to development McIntosh said.
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