• Nigeria’s response encouraging, says US Ambassador
By Doyin Ojosipe, Abuja & Ngozi Onyeakusi in Lagos
The Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, yesterday disclosed that four additional confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), who have been managed successfully and are now disease-free have been discharged.
The minister, in a statement, said that those treated and discharged included two male medical doctors and one female nurse.
Prof. Chukwu, while briefing journalists yesterday, explained that, “The three participated in the treatment of the index case while the fourth person was a female patient at the time the index, Patrick Sawyer, was on admission in the hospital. This brings to five the total number of patients diagnosed with EVD who have now been discharged from hospital”.
He said they had tested positive to Ebola infection after attending to late Patrick Sawyer and were isolated for the supportive treatment to enable them fight Ebola, adding that their treatment was carefully and well-managed, which has led to their full recovery.
Nigeria now has 12 confirmed cases of the Ebola virus; up from 10 at last week’s count, the minister said, adding that 189 people in Lagos and six others in the south-eastern city of Enugu were still under surveillance.
Meanwhile, there are reports that a nurse has tested positive for Ebola infection in Lagos yesterday, increasing the number of Ebola cases to 13, according to anonymous government sources.
The infected, whose name was given simply as “Nkechi”, had been under quarantine in Lagos. Doctors monitoring her said she initially tested negative and had been cleared to leave the centre, but suddenly developed high temperatures that led to new tests, which showed that she in fact had the virus.
Reports said the sudden discovery of her case caused a stir within the centre as to the veracity of tested cases, and the safety of those cleared to leave the quarantine centre by doctors at the centre. The nurse was admitted yesterday for care.
However, in a related development yesterday, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, said he was encouraged by the response of Nigeria to the Ebola outbreak
The Ambassador, who spoke during a visit at the office of the Minister of health in Abuja yesterday, said, “This is an issue where we have to keep working hard. It may last for a while but there are some encouraging signs. The Emergency Operation Centre, I understand, is working well; the isolation ward, I understand, is working well. So this is an example we have to, as part of the broad partnership between our two countries; we have to just keep collaborating and cooperating and keep working hard.”
On the Ebola experimental drugs, the ambassador said there are not huge quantities now. “And we think the focus now needs to be on exactly what you are doing, the isolation ward, screening and especially important that now your government is doing a very good job on this is contact tracing.”
In another development, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), medical students, and resident doctors converged at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, protesting the suspension of residency training and the sacking of all resident doctors.
The protesters faulted attitudes of the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, toward the demands of the doctors, alleging that the political class is deliberately shutting down the public health sector as a form of “coup” against good health of the public.
They dismissed insinuations that their strike action was over demand for an increase in salaries.