Leadership — Aug 1, 2014 The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Josephat Akabuike, announced yesterday that a hospital had been sealed off and its workers and patients quarantined due to Ebola disease scare.
Briefing journalists in Awka, Akabuike said the measure followed information received by the government that a man whose body was brought back from Liberia at the weekend, might have died of the killer disease.
He said that information available to the government indicated that the body was brought back from Liberia through Lagos and deposited in the mortuary at Nkwelle-Ezenaka in Oyi Local Government of the state.
“Part of the briefing is to tell you what we are doing to make sure we don’t allow the deadly virus to come into the state.
“What actually called for this is that we have a report that a corpse was brought through Lagos and the deseased was said to have been taken from Liberia where of course you know there are cases of the disease.
“The corpse was said to have been brought to Nigeria and deposited somewhere in Nkwelle-Ezunaka and the ministry was alerted and that is why we are taking all these measures.”
The commissioner said that Governor Willie Obiano had already directed the Police Command in the state to cordon off the place until the necessary tests were carried out.
He further said that Federal Government had also sent medical experts from the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, to Anambra to carry out the test at the hospital premises.
The outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever, for which there is no known cure, began in the forests of remote eastern Guinea in February, but Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases.
Atiku Joins Ebola Awareness Campaign
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has stepped up awareness campaign on the danger of the deadly Ebola virus.
The foremost politician, who was vice president to President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, also urged Nigerians to spread the messages of hope and work towards the unity of the country.
Using his Twitter handle (@atiku) and Facebook page (@Atiku Abubakar), Atiku posted links with vital information on the Ebola virus and how to protect oneself and family against the virus, stressing that the disease was preventable if everyone decided to be vigilant.
According to his Facebook posting on Wednesday, “The bad news: Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, is in Nigeria. The good news: it is preventable.”
On his Twitter handle, @atiku, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, tweeted, “In these difficult times, we must all be messengers of hope. We must unite our country.”
59 Contacts With Victim Not Infected – Lagos
Lagos State Government has said there was no fresh case of the dreaded Ebola virus disease in the state or any part of the country.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr Yewande Adeshina, who stated this yesterday in Lagos, added that none of the persons said to have come in contact with the late Liberian victim of the Ebola virus disease, Patrick Sawyerr, has manifested unusual body temperature or any other symptom of the dreaded virus.
She explained that all the 59 persons who were in close contact with the deceased Liberian in Nigeria were hale and hearty and had not exhibited any unusual symptoms while emphasising that that there had been no case of the dreaded disease from the country’s borders.
Also, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH), Professor Akin Osibogun, has said that contrary to reports that one of the contacts of late Sawyer, had started showing symptoms of the disease, none of the specimens of the contacts sent to them tested positive to the virus.
He said: “Since the over 20 specimens have been sent to LUTH, none of them have tested
positive to the virus,” adding that the First Consultants Hospital should be commended for having such high index of suspicion and immediately alerting the federal and state hospitals.
2 contacts with Ebola victim, hospital officials quarantined – FG
But, the federal government yesterday disclosed that about 69 primary contacts of the 40 –year-old Liberian/American Ebola virus victim, were under surveillance while two were under quarantine.
Minster of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, gave the disclosure at a joint press briefing with the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku yesterday in Abuja.
Chukwu said that “the members of staff of the hospital who admitted the man, those with him in the plane and other secondary contacts are being quarantined for the three weeks incubation period of the virus, after which they will be discharged if certified free”.
“The federal government has the primary responsibility in disease control. About 69 primary contacts of the man are under surveillance and two are under quarantine,” he said. He added that the government was still looking for the passengers and implored those with useful information about them to provide such.
The minister said that contrary to insinuations that the airline carrying the man was not cooperating in the search of the other passengers in the airplane, that the government was working in collaboration with the airline and had already received the passengers manifest from the airline.
“We are pushing all frontiers of communication in as much as this virus is concerned. We are sparing no effort.”
Chukwu said that the government was collaborating with the transport companies that were plying across the West Coast, the telecoms, and the state governments in order to disseminate the necessary information and prevention mechanism.
The federal government said it was doing all that was possible to contain Ebola Virus spread, while restricting it to the singular case of the Liberian/American who died after entering the country.
He said: “Following the World Organisation Protocol (WHO) on the Ebola, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the Lagos State government with permission from the Liberian government, the corpse of the Ebola victim was cremated after it was decontaminated.”
He added that the ashes were expected to be sent to the family.
Also in his remarks, Maku said that Nigerians should not be in unnecessary panic over the virus as it had not entered the country while assuring government’s commitment towards preventing it.
“Ebola and other diseases have similar symptoms. We must be very careful of how we report it. It is not every fever that is Ebola; we don’t want to create unnecessary panic. Fear and not the virus itself can kill people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lagos State commissioner for information, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, has advised the citizenry to be wary of the activities of fraudsters who were making spurious claims about their ability to provide cure for the Ebola Virus Disease.
He urged them to always contact health providers to report unusual feelings noticed while cautioning against sending panicky text messages round about the Ebola Disease that could heighten tension and create anxiety.
Ibirogba called on those who wanted to make cheap money from the case to desist from their strange claims of cure for the disease lest they run foul of the law, as only medical solutions are known to be appropriate for the disease.
He reminded residents of the state to contact health authorities in case anyone with observed symptoms of the Ebola disease was noticed.
Ibirogba also counselled residents to observe the highest level of personal environmental hygiene, urging them to visit hospitals or Primary Health Centres nearest to them to report strange feelings noticed.
Health officials screen passengers for Ebola virus at airports
The health officers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, have begun screening of passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola, after a traveller from Liberia died of the contagious disease in Lagos.
Speaking in Abuja, yesterday, the director, port services of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Sani Gwarzo, said they were screening passengers arriving from abroad while health officials were distributing information about how to identify Ebola symptoms.”
He said: “The arriving passengers are to be processed first by port health personnel who are expected to carry out necessary tests on every passenger with special devices that do not permit physical contact. Those found to be free of any signs or symptoms would proceed to the immigration area for other formalities,” Gwarzo said.
He charged aviation stakeholders to be abreast of dangers posed by the Ebola virus and how to prevent the spread of the virus in the airport.
“Port Health officials have sensitized workers from different agencies operating at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International, Abuja on the dangers posed by the Ebola virus and how to prevent the spread of the virus in the work place, home and the
community,” Gwarzo said.
He added that the awareness campaign was carried out to complement other measures already put in place by port health at the country’s international airports to prevent the presence and spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria.
“A holding area has been provided at the tarmac for suspected cases while key cases are expected to be isolated in a designated area outside the airport for further examination and treatment,” he said.
In attendance at the awareness campaign were officials from airlines, Immigration, Customs, NDLEA, Nigeria Police, handling companies, FAAN and NCAA, among other agencies at the airport.