Nigerian Ebola cases hit 198 as nurse flees Lagos
The Ebola scare has hit Enugu State — no thanks to a nurse who defied a directive not to leave Lagos.
The unnamed nurse was part of the team that treated the late Mr. Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who died of the disease after flying into Lagos.
But, the government has moved fast to check a possible outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in the state.
Minister of Information Labaran Maku said yesterday that 21 persons, including the nurse, had been quarantined in the state.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, Maku said that the nurse had primary contact with the late Sawyer, who brought the disease to Nigeria.
According to him, the nurse travelled to Enugu from Lagos against instruction not to leave Lagos State.
He said 198 persons had been placed under watch by the Ministry of Health to contain further spread of the disease.
Of the 198 persons under surveillance , 177 are in Lagos; 21 are in Enugu.
Maku said: “All those who had primary contact have been quarantined. Secondary contacts have also been traced. So far, the number of people that have been traced is 198. Out of this number, 177 are in Lagos and are being traced. Some are in quarantine, some are being monitored by health specialists.
“21 persons in Enugu are also being watched. This is because one of the nurses that was involved with the treatment of the index case, unfortunately, disobeyed medical instructions and somehow travelled to Enugu.
“All those who she was in contact with, including her husband, are under quarantine. The medical team have been able to trace all those who made contact with her.
The minister urged members of the public to discountenance rumours and unverified reports over the Ebola epidemic. The government will prosecute anybody spreading rumours that damage public health.
Maku said: “Health workers are now in all our border units. All the entry points into this country and exit points, we have port health workers that are working in our airports and seaports.”
“We are calling on citizens specifically to cooperate. If health workers say you have had contact with A,B,C, don’t move to anywhere; respect that judgement. It is very important. In one or two cases where we have had disobedience, we lost one of them and this one now moved with it to another place (Enugu). So, we are urging Nigerians, please, to help us in making sure that all these messages and appeals we are making, we implement them.” he said.
Stressing that the preventive measures have been communicated to governors, Maku said they were invited to be briefed by the federal government on further collaboration to stamp out the disease from Nigeria.
He said the disease has no cure. Besides, he debunked rumour that there was an Ebola case in Abuja.
Said Maku: “The Ministry of Health set up a special committee specifically to take claims from Nigerians who believe they could help and so far we have had a lot of reports from Nigerians at home and abroad who come forward to say, ‘look’ they have possibility of developing therapies that could help in fighting the virus.”
“There is no cure so far, anywhere in the world. Even the trial drug in the US is still a trial drug; it has not been established.”
Maku added: “One of the doctors and research experts that came forward was Dr Simon Agwale, who has been one of the frontline global researchers on developing vaccines for HIV and other viral diseases. He also came forward and said he could help, both in terms of working out to develop a vaccine, which he said he has started work on between himself and his fellow experts in the US and he said this is ongoing.
“The Minister of Health has given support and directed him to the committee. He also discussed the possibility of certain therapy which could be applied. And again that is being discussed. And once it is approved, it could be used.”
During the meeting with governors and health commissioners yesterday, automatic hand sanitiser was brought in and the President, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola and others sanitised their hands.
The machines are to be stationed in startegic places for private and public use.
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