#iPGN: Ebola Scare: Ebola kills social life in Nigeria Universities

Since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, things have not remained the same in the nation’s tertiary institutions write Adelani Adepegba, Umar Muhammed, Jude Owuamanam, Simon Utebor, Alexander Okere and Success Nwogu

It is noon on the campus of the University of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and many students walk briskly to conduct their businesses while some just stroll leisurely with their friends. One thing is, however, noticeable, no hand-holding by strolling duos and colleagues who encounter one another probably the first time in the day greet in a peculiar and almost funny way: no body contact. In the university community, such greeting is known as the Ebola greeting.

This development is not peculiar to this university, it is almost a common feature in all the nation’s tertiary institutions since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in the country, SUNDAY PUNCH investigations have revealed.

Across the land tertiary institutions have now devised various ways of preventing the deadly virus from their different domains.

Ebola hugging, according to a 300-level Sociology student of the University of Abuja, Okino Oyiza, is a form of greeting between two individuals which avoids body contact.

She said, “We are aware of the Ebola virus, we know it is a viral disease that can be contracted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. So for now, all forms of physical contact like hugging and other shows of emotion have been suspended. We now engage in ‘Ebola hugging’ in which you hug someone without touching them.”

Another 300 level Sociology student, Lydia Inyambe, said she had limited her interaction with fellow students, adding that she tried as much as possible to avoid handshakes with sweaty students.

“These days, I am careful of whom I have handshakes with, I try to avoid sweaty people. Though no case of Ebola has been recorded in Abuja, it is still good to comply with personal safety rules by washing your hands regularly and maintaining high personal hygiene,” she said.

A 200 level Microbiology student, Desmond Ezenwa, said he had procured hand sanitizer, which he used regularly, adding that he had also limited his interaction with others.

Ezenwa said he attended campus fellowship, but was mindful of physical contacts with fellow students.

At the Federal University, Lafia, the Head of Medical Laboratory Unit, Mbaduaha Henry, said the fact that the virus was deadly and did not have any cure yet had created fears in many and restricted social life.

Some pre-ND students in the Mass Communication Department of the Nasarawa State Polytechnic confirmed the fear. Augustine Blessing, Lucky Promise, Patient Adamu and an ND11 student of Department of Library and Information Science, Ibrahim Kahdija, said when they heard about the disease, they were struck by fear that made them to avoid social events like parties.

Adamu said it would be difficult to avoid body contacts at parties.

The level of fear at the University of Jos, it was gathered, was not by any means less. This explains why the campus health centre gives the students health talk every day on the virus.

The talk, according to the Senior Registrar, Information and Publication, Mr. Abdullahi Abdullahi, is to prevent any possible outbreak of the disease on the campus.

Students of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, are not spared by the EVDscare.

A 200 level student of the institution, who gave his name only as John, said the school authorities had been sensitising them to the deadly nature of the virus and the need to be hygiene-conscious.

He said some students, afraid they could contract the virus by exchanging handshakes with people, had started wearing hand gloves.

John added that students now exercise caution on social activities and interactions on the campus even as they throw jibes at one another over the EVD scare.

At the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University, Amassomma, Daniel Adodo, a 100 level student said since the EVD outbreak in the country, panic had gripped the campus.

In response to the scare, the authorities of the Federal University, Otuoke, have set up an Ebola Advisory Committee. The Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mercy Ekot, said the Vice-Chancellor was the head of the committee.

She also said 100 wall sanitisers had been mounted, stressing that 15 people had volunteered to give talks on the Ebola Virus to students.

Students of the University of Benin are about to resume; but those already on campus were already gripped with the Ebola fear when one of our correspondents visited.

Ibenome Glory, a 400 level Chemical Engineering student, quickly folded her arms when our correspondent approached her to avoid a handshake.

“I thought you would stretch your hand for a handshake. So, I decided to fold my arms to prevent one.

“The fear of spreading the disease to this university and getting infected has really increased, now that the school will soon resume and many of my colleagues will be coming from Lagos.

“In fact as a female, I don’t know how to respond if my classmates from Lagos offer me hug when they return, without embarrassing them.”

The lecturers are also not left out. A lecturer in the department of Mechanical Engineering, who pleaded anonymity said, “I take my hygiene very seriously by washing my hands regularly and as much as possible avoid handshakes and being in contact with other people’s body fluids.

“Although I heard that only a person showing the symptoms can transmit the virus, I will not take the risk.

In Kwara State, palpable fear has gripped the students, lecturers and other workers of tertiary institutions. Our correspondent gathered that most of the students had embarked on some preventive measures. Also, school authorities had activated some preventive strategies to forestall the spread of the disease in their institutions.

One of our correspondents gathered that some of the students have started withdrawing from social gatherings and attend only lectures and other academic activities retire to their homes as soon as the programmes are over.

Both the University of Ilorin and Kwara State University have taken some measures to prevent the spread of the disease to the institutions, according their officials.

Director, KWASU Health Services, Dr. Nimat Idris, said the centre had engaged in continuous sensitisation of the university community with banners placed at strategic areas of the university articulating key preventive measures against the disease.

She added that KWASU’s medical team had visited their host community, Malete on their last market day, and had one-on -one interaction with the traders and buyers on how to prevent the Ebola spread.

She stated that automatic dispensing hand-sanitisers had been ordered in more quantities in. According to her, these will be placed in more locations on campus for easier access for use.

“There has been massive distribution of hand pamphlets on the issue to in-coming and returning students to educate them further on the issue.

“The university porters will be enlightened one-on-one on the key signs of Ebola, and the clinic hotlines will be placed at strategic locations to pass information to KWASU medical team once there is a suspect case.”

The Chairman of Unilorin Committee on Ebola Response, Prof. Ayo Ojuawo, told our correspondent that the university had identified and fumigated trees that host bats at the institution’s Staff Quarters as one of the preventive measures.

He added that the university had acquired and was making plans to acquire more Personal Protective Equipment, sanitisers, and water dispensers for the university community.

Ojuawo said the institution had established a proper referral system where suspected Ebola cases can be referred.

He added that the institution was working with the state government which has identified isolation centres and is also trying to network with theUniversity of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in view of the tertiary health function that UITH performs.

Ojuawo said, “We have put in place short and long term measures to address the Ebola threat.

Posted From iProdigy Group Nigeria(Dabibi Ori-ibim’s Blog).

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