Jonathan seeks joint action
The Ebola scare got wider yesterday, with Turkey putting a Nigerian under watch and President Goodluck Jonathan calling for concerted efforts against the deadly disease .
The Nigerian, who arrived in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday, created panic when she fell ill aboard a Turkish Airlines plane flying from Lagos to Istanbul.
It prompted authorities to take measures against a possible case of the Ebola virus.
The 32-year-old woman reportedly fell ill to fever and vomited during the flight before the pilot demanded paramedics’ attention.
Paramedics working under the General Directorate of Health for Borders and Coasts delivered the first treatment to the woman on the plane. She and her three-year-old son were later taken to the hospital for further examination.
The Turkish health ministry in a statement said officials were keeping a close watch on the woman as a precautionary measure.
“It is not possible to say the patient in question has the Ebola virus, but we are carefully evaluating even the smallest symptoms because she came from Nigeria,” the ministry said.
The spokesman of Turkish Airlines, Ali Genç, also confirmed the incident via his Twitter account. “The plane has been disinfected as a precautionary measure,” Genç stated.
The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person. Ebola cannot be spread like the flu through casual contact or breathing the same air as someone who is infected.
It has killed 1,013 people and infected another 1,848, as the latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows.
Ebola has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, and there is no vaccine or known cure. The virus initially causes fever, headaches, muscle pain, headaches, sore throats, conjunctivitis and a general feeling of weakness, before moving into more severe phases of vomiting, diarrhea and hemorrhages and impaired kidney and liver function, with the final stages resulting in internal and external bleeding. Ebola is thought to only be transmitted when patients are displaying severe symptoms.
Yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan called for strategic collaboration among West African countries to control and contain the Ebola Virus in order to stop its further threat to human lives.
He spoke, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, while receiving Guinea’s new ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Gaoussou Toure, who presented his letters of credence at the State House, Abuja.
The outbreak of the EVD started in Guinea in March.
Dr. Jonathan praised the containment measures so far taken by West African countries that have been affected by the disease, stressing that more concerted intra-regional cooperation and action needs to be developed.
He said: ”A problem that affects one of us affects all. We may need to come together as a region to strengthen our containment measures. I am, however, pleased that serious measures are being taken to control the spread of the disease.”
Ambassador Toure thanked President Jonathan for the financial assistance given to Guinea by Nigeria for tackling the (Ebola) disease and assured him that Guinea is deploying containment measures to combat the outbreak.
He reaffirmed Guinea’s commitment to strengthening the country’s cordial relations with Nigeria.
Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu said yesterday that Nigeria would take advantage of the Ebola Vaccine if released by the American government.
“At the moment, Nigeria is reaching out to various laboratories and various governments including the United States to see how some of this untried drugs and vaccines that seemed to hold out some hopes could also be deployed in Nigeria and it is possible that very soon we would also be administering the vaccines on extremely serious cases.
“What is important is that we had already established a mechanism to explore all possible suggestions. Apart from the American vaccine, there are others but none had gone through all the necessary clinical processes.
“Some had gone through phases one and two but none had gone through phase three. We are reaching out to research institutions in about three countries, so it is work in progress.”
Chukwu said “even with the vaccines, whether approved, licensed, or registered, what is important is that all of them will only complement what has been the well tried out treatment protocol in Ebola virus.”
He noted that the most important measure was to achieve early diagnosis, early isolation, and nutrition which included the use of electrolyte which the patient in Lagos are receiving.
“That is why many of them are almost ready to go, they are getting better. Our patients are getting the treatment according to established WHO protocol.”
He explained that the experimental vaccines being administered by some countries have not gone through due clinical trials but that their laws permitted them though with the informed consent of the patients.
In Nigeria, he said, “our national research ethics code also permits such practice under exigency or when there is epidemic and there had been drugs or vaccines though not yet concluded in terms of clinical trials, which we could deploy into the patients.”