Ebola: Three new suspected cases in Port Harcourt
Three people have been taken to the Ebola Virus Disease quarantine centre at Oduoha, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The State Commissioner for Health, Sampson Parker, made this known on Sunday just as the Federal Government said another emergency meeting of the National Council of Health over the EVD would hold in Abuja today. The last meeting took place on August 11, 2014.
Parker, who addressed journalists, said those quarantined were a doctor, a pharmacist and a woman who came into contact with Dr. Iyke Enemuo, who died of the virus in Port Harcourt on August 22.
The pharmacist and the doctor are members of staff of Sam Steel Hospital while the nurse worked at the Good Heart Hospital where Enemuo died.
Sam Steel Hospital was founded by Enemuo, who contracted Ebola while treating an ECOWAS diplomat, Koye Olu-Ibukun, who travelled to Port Harcourt after coming into contact with the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer. Sawyer died from the virus in Nigeria.
He said, “They (pharmacist, nurse and doctor) have not been confirmed (as having Ebola) and we are waiting for the result of the investigation today (Sunday.”
Parker, who as of 8pm on Sunday had not made the outcome of the tests public, also confirmed that Enemuo’s widow was at the isolation centre in Lagos where she is receiving treatment having tested positive to the virus.
Some 200 primary and secondary contacts have been traced, although about 60 had yet to be spoken to, he added. None of them had shown symptoms.
He said, “I have been telling you before now that almost 200 persons have been line-traced. Out of this number, we are still to be in touch with about 60 of them.
“But 50 high risk contacts have been identified. Because of stigma and the rest of them, these persons are not coming up but we are still on them.
“We are concentrating on the names we have to capture in our (monitoring) activities but the good news is that we have been making good progress in checking the spread of Ebola.”
When one of our correspondents visited the quarantine centre on Saturday, he noticed that it was undergoing reconstruction.
As of 11am on Saturday when he left, no single patient had been brought there.
When informed of this development, Parker replied, “I am briefing you now. Operations are by the minute. They are three there now. They won’t let you into the centre now. That place is restricted. Probably when you went there, there were none, but I am telling you now that I was there when they were being brought in.”
The commissioner said Governor Rotimi Amaechi would meet with religious leaders today and traditional rulers in the state on Tuesday.
He counselled the people that Ebola was not a death sentence, stressing that those who came into contact with Enemuo and Koye should come up early for screening.
Parker said, “People should know that Ebola is not a death sentence and that they should come out. I must tell you that in Lagos, most of them that came up early survived. Only the ones that were going from one church to the other until their case degenerated, died.
“We must let the public know that any one that came into contact with primary and secondary contacts to Dr. Enemuo or the clinics and the hotel should voluntarily contact us. It does not mean they are infected. All we need is just to observe them.
“Chances of survival are very high. It is very important the members of the public know this so that we do not waste time looking for people who are hiding. We know some persons are hiding but we are advising them to come out.
“Some of them are running into churches and most of them are laying hands on them without knowing.
“People should please check their level of anointing before they do that. This is a strong advice for pastors.”
Parker also said the movement of corpses within and outside Rivers State would be supervised henceforth.
He said people must have the death certificates to enable the government to ascertain the cause of the death of their loved ones.
“People cannot just move corpses here and there without clearance with the Ministry of Health. In fact, the police could stop you and ask for your clearance. Before corpses are released from the mortuary, the attendants must demand clearance documents.”
The commissioner said the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Sam Steel Hospital, Mandate Hotels and Good Heart Hospital had been decontaminated.
He added that the state now had a mobile laboratory for testing people.
NCH holds another emergency meeting today
Meanwhile, the NCH will meet again today in Abuja to “review the situation, preparedness by states and ascertain their compliance with the recommendation of the last meeting” on containing the Ebola outbreak in the country.
The Special Assistant, Media and Communications, to the Minister of Health, Dan Nwomeh, and the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Omede Idris confirmed the meeting.
“The meeting will hold on Monday at Barcelona Hotel, Wuse,” said Nwomeh. He however did not state the agenda of the meeting.
The NCH comprises the minister of Health, state commissioners for health. Except in an emergency, the council meets once in a year.
Our correspondents gathered that the meeting was convened to discuss the implementation of some of the decisions reached at the August 11, 2014 parley, particularly the directive on transport of corpses and how those who died of EVD should be handled.
The council, had at the meeting, directed state governments to institutionalise communication strategies to ensure mass awareness and sensitisation for individuals and communities on EVD.
It also directed that particular attention be paid to vulnerable groups such as market women and other women groups, patent medicine vendors, road transport workers, fishermen , hunters and bushmeat sellers, schoolchildren, morticians and mortuary attendants, traditional healers and faith based groups.
The NCH directed the Federal Government to make whole body scanners available at designated ports of entry.
It stated that the Federal Government should assist states to establish isolation tents.
NMA investigates dead doctor
In Jos, the Plateau State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association has launched an investigation to determine if Enemuo “is a true professional or a quack.”
Its Chairman in the state, Dr. Bokop Bupwatda, said an initial investigation had revealed that the late doctor graduated from the University of Jos Teaching Hospital.
It described Enemuo’s action as “unethical” and added that no doctor worth his salt would do what he did.
The state NMA said, “We heard that Dr Enemuo graduated from the University of Jos and we are investigating him to see if we can expunge his name posthumously from the records of doctors that graduated from Jos.
“What he did was bad because he did that at the expense of not only his life, but also the lives of others who possibly might have come into contact with Olu-Ibukun all the way from Lagos to Port Harcourt. Whatever might have been his fees is not worth the loss of his life and the risk he has put others to. So we are investigating whether he is a true professional or a quack.
“He has to be sanctioned even though he is dead and all those involved, including the diplomat must also be sanctioned because they have messed up all the efforts the Federal Government has been doing to contain the spread to only Lagos and manage the situation.”
However, resident doctors at the JUTH, who were reluctant to resume duties following the suspension of strike by the NMA, are back to work.
‘Hold Jonathan responsible if EVD cases worsen’
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress has said Nigerians must hold President Goodluck Jonathan personally responsible if Ebola spreads more than it has done in the country.
The party said that the President failed to stop a rally in his support in Port Harcourt on Saturday, despite warning from individuals and groups.
The APC, in a statement issued on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said never before had a President of a country sabotaged his administration’s policy and endangered the lives of his compatriots as Jonathan had done on the Ebola issue.
It said the same President, who declared a national emergency on Ebola and advised against large gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus, was the first to flout his own advice by failing to stop the rally by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria in Port Harcourt.
The party noted that the rally was held a few days after the virus was detected in the city and at a time that contact tracing was going on to find all those who might have come into contact with the medical doctor victim of the disease.
The party stated, ‘‘On the altar of political desperation, President Jonathan put the lives of Nigerians in danger. In order to realise his ambition for re-election, President Jonathan has shown he is ready to sacrifice as many lives of Nigerians as possible. There goes the President’s statement that his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. This President simply says what he doesn’t mean.”
Efforts by one of our correspondents to get the response of the President’s spokesman, Dr. Ruben Abati, to the APC’s statement failed as calls to his mobile telephone line did not go through.