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Published On: Mon, Aug 4th, 2014

Lagos: Ebola victim’s doctor tests positive

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nigeria minister of health
  • Another fresh case reported
  • 8 others quarantined

By Doyin Ojosipe, Abuja & Suleiman Idris, Lagos

Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu yesterday revealed that the Lagos-based doctor, First Consultant, who treated the Liberian man Patrick Sawyer, that died few days ago of Ebola Virus has tested positive to the Virus while eight others, who came in contact with the victim are under quarantine.

This is coming, just as another victim, one Mr. Nwosu Nnaji, was diagnosed as having the disease by the Port Health Service (PHS) officials attached to the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, in Lagos.

Also corroborating the Minister’s assertion, the Director, Centre for Disease Control, Abuja, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, has refuted claims that the infected doctor is dead.

Nasidi, who spoke at a press  briefing in Lagos State yesterday, said the infected patient had been quarantined and was presently receiving treatment at the hospital in Lagos.

“We will not be able to release the name of the new contact, but we know that the person is a doctor and a female. The patient is not dead; she is alive. Experts from the local and international organisations are attending to the patient,” he said.

“This is now the second case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria. So, this new case is one of the doctors who attended to the patient who imported Ebola virus into Nigeria”, the Minister said at a press briefing, yesterday, in Abuja.

According to him, as at last week, only two were said to be under close observation while69 were under surveillance, but the numbers increased with the turning of the days, as one is reportedly dead while, two has increased to 8, and 69 to 70 under watch.

In his words: “As at that Friday, most of them were Ebola negative, through the sample of their blood. But, at the weekend, there were others who participated in attending to that particular patient. These other newer people who didn’t have symptoms at the time we addressed you; but they developed symptoms over the weekend. As at today, we have test of those health personnel who have had to become Ebola positive; and being treated as such.”

Chukwu, said an emergency meeting has been scheduled to hold within the week, which will have all health commissioners in attendance to discuss the way forward, while urging that all states in Nigeria to start taking measures, such as building isolation centres and take precautionary measures to stall the spread of the world’s deadliest epidemic.

“One is that beyond Lagos state, we want each state government to provide isolation walls in readiness of any eventuality. We’ve strengthened the one in Lagos, it is working. Lagos state government provided additional space. We are going to work with all state government…including the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control. We will work hard, in the Federal Ministry of Health, to ensure that these isolation walls in the states are quickly put in place”, he added.

The Minister disclosed that all airline operators and other transporters have been warned not to bring in corpse into the country; especially the ones with the known case of Ebola, while the Nigerian Customs have also been put on their toes to bounce back corpses coming from the three countries with the prevalence of the deadly disease.

Chukwu also said that federal government will not yet close it borders as so many things are still being put into consideration, but, if it becomes necessary, we will do that.

Reported new case

However, there were clear indications yesterday that ample dangers are inherent in the cross-border movements of people. The latest victim, one Mr. Nwosu Nnaji was diagnosed as having the disease by the Port Health Service (PHS) officials attached to the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos.

His detection is said to have aroused confusion among the different health and airport agencies personnel as to what to do with him on Monday.

A reliable source at the terminal confided that the case is regarded as a severe one and being strongly treated in order not to create panic among inbound and outbound passengers at the airport, considering its economic importance to the country.

While the point of origin of the aircraft could not be confirm by the appropriate authority, an airline source told our correspondent the aircraft, belonging to a Nigeria carrier arrived from the Ghanaian capital, Accra at 12:15pm into the waiting arms of the port health officials who carried out the screening of inbound passengers into Nigeria.

“I don’t specifically know where the plane came from, but the patient was discovered during screening of inbound passengers by the port health officials at the airport. As at now, we don’t know what to do with him. Some of the officials want him return to base while others are insisting that as a Nigerian, he has the right to arrive into the country” the source said

The health department of the airport authority had received equipment for detecting the EVD upon the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria about two weeks ago, passengers from West Africa countries were said to be mostly screened as the plague is prevalent in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Airport authority personnel were not forthcoming with information, as they appear piqued with the latest development, a spokesperson, who promised to call back could not do so yesterday.

Nigeria carrier, Arik Air had suspended it flight operations into Liberia and Sierra Leone, while another major shuttle carrier Asky Airlines was suspended by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for bringing the late Patrick Sawyer into Nigeria; the ban has since been lifted.

Appeal to striking doctors

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, has appealed to striking doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association to call off their strike and join the government to fight the virus.

He added that the state government would be offering incentives to health workers who volunteer to work with the team of doctors that are treating infected patients.

Idris said, “We also welcome volunteers from the health profession and those who do so shall be given incentives. We also appeal to residents to support the government in fighting the scourge by being cautious.”

Meanwhile, the WHO said yesterday, the death toll from the world’s worst Ebola outbreak had risen to 887 by Aug. 1, while the total number of cases in the four West African countries affected stood at 1,603 on the same date.

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