ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan declared a national state of emergency on Friday over the Ebola outbreak in Africa's most populous country, and approved 1.9 billion naira ($11.7 million) of emergency funds to contain it.
Nigeria has confirmed seven cases of Ebola in its commercial capital Lagos since a man fell sick on arrival from Liberia, two of whom have died. Several dozen people who came into contact with the man are under surveillance.
Jonathan's spokesman Reuben Abati said the money would pay to "strengthen steps to contain the virus such as ... additional isolation centers, case management, contact tracing, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders, and the procurement of required items and facilities".
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that West Africa's Ebola epidemic constituted an international health emergency and the virus, which has killed nearly 1,000 people, could continue spreading for months.
The prospect of Ebola in Lagos, Africa's biggest city with 21 million people, has ratcheted up alarm about its spread.
Jonathan warned against "spreading false information about Ebola which can lead to mass hysteria, panic and misdirection, including unverified suggestions about the prevention, treatment, cure and spread of the virus."
He also urged religious leaders to avoid holding large gatherings that might spread the virus, a reference to the many "megachurches" that can draw tens of thousands of faithful from around the West Africa region to their services.
He asked schools to extend their summer holidays and "urged that the movement of corpses from one community to the other, and from overseas into the country should be stopped forthwith".
All deaths from sickness should be reported to the authorities, he added. The state of emergency is expected to stay in place until the outbreak is contained. (1 US dollar = 162.7000 Nigerian naira)
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Crispian Balmer)