Scores put under watch as Ebola kills another doctor
There was panic yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital where a doctor died of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Dr. Iky Sam Enemua is the second doctor and the sixth person to have died since Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer imported the disease into Nigeria on July 20.
The late Enemua, a private practitioner’s death has extended the outbreak of the disease outside Lagos where it had been confined.
The widow of the victim, who is also a doctor, took care of him while he was ill. She has been quarantined. Her test result was being expected last night.
Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and Rivers State Commissioner for Health Dr. Sampson Parker spoke yesterday on the Port Harcourt case.
Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, in a broadcast, stated the measures being taken by the government to battle the disease. He urged the people to shun rumour mongering and not to panic.
The commissioner said: “Dr. Iky Sam Enemua died last Friday, as a result of what was suspected was Ebola Virus Disease(EVD). The Rivers State Ministry of Health, on becoming aware of the conditions of his death, quickly commenced investigations and contact tracing.
“As at today (yesterday), about 100 contacts from a hotel, patients of Dr. Enemua, patients of the hospital where he was treated until his death have been identified, and restricted in Rivers State.
“The locations have been decontaminated. We have promised to be open and candid with the public on our efforts to tackle Ebola virus.
“Some facts have emerged from our investigation. An employee of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the team that received the late Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian- American who died of Ebola disease in Lagos, made a trip to Port Harcourt. He checked into a hotel and met with Dr. Iky Enemua. After a week of his departure, Dr. Enemua took ill and was rushed to a hospital, suffering from fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
“In the course of the treatment, the managing physician became suspicious and took samples for investigation. A few days after, Dr. Enemua died (on August 22) and his body was deposited at a mortuary in Port Harcourt.
“Dr. Enemua’s widow, who is also a medical doctor and who cared for him during his sickness has taken ill and been quarantined.
“A few hours ago, result of the sample taken from the late Enemua came back and was tested positive for Ebola virus. The diplomat who was seen by the late Dr. Enemua is alive and well.
“I urge every Rivers State indigene and residents to remain calm and go about their normal duties. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and avoid unnecessary body contacts till further notice.
“The government of Rivers State is doing everything possible to contain the effects and spread of the Ebola virus. We have all the material and human resources we need to fight and defeat the deadly virus.
“Officials of the Federal Ministry of health and other international agencies are already here working with the state Ministry of Health. Together, I believe we can contain the disease.”
A source said last night that the number of those restricted had climed up to between 100 and 150.
News of the death of the doctor heightened fear among people. Private hospitals began to turn down patients with fever cases.
Parker admitted the doctor’s death, then identified as a health worker but said result of the medical test was being awaited.
Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the doctor’s death had increased the number of deaths as a result of the virus in the country to six. The doctor’s case was not managed by the government team; was only made known to the team after his death.
The minister said the ban on mass gathering stands, explaining that apart from religious houses, organisers must seek clearance from the government before any public gathering.
He said it was part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Besides, he said the resumption date for schools across the country is still tentative as it depends on the situation.
Given the latest update on the virus, Prof. Chukwu said: “The total number of cases of EVD cases so far reported in Nigeria stands at 15, The total number of cases treated at our isolation ward stands at 13. The total number of those discharged is seven. Total number of deaths is five, and the total number currently under treatment is one and the person is stable and improving clinically.”
He explained the change in figure from the previous 13 which was announced sone few days ago. “You will also notice that the number of cases has increased from 13 to 15, you will also notice that this additional two we not treated in the isolation ward in Lagos, “ the minister said, adding:
“One of them is primary contact of the index case (Mr. Patrick Sawyer). Even though presently he does not have EVD but further laboratory tests indicate that he had suffered EVD.
“This primary contact of Mr. Sawyer’s evaded our surveillance team in the last week of July 2014 and travelled out of Lagos to Port Harcourt where, as we now understand, he consulted with a doctor and was apparently treated for some symptoms. After four days, following a manhunt for him, he returned to Lagos by which time he was found to be without symptoms.
“This case would have been of no further interest since he had completed the 21 days of surveillance without any other issue, but for the fact that the doctor who treated him died last Friday, 22nd August 2014.
“Following the report of this death by the doctor’s widow the next day, the case was thoroughly investigated and laboratory analysis showed that his doctor died from EVD.
“As a result, several contacts have now been traced, registered and placed under surveillance. However, because the widow is now symptomatic, she has been quarantined, pending the outcome of laboratory tests on her.”
Chukwu urged Port Harcourt residents “not to panic over this situation as the experience we have gathered from Lagos and Enugu indicate that there is no cause for alarm when you have the government fully in control of the situation”.
He said the incident Management Committee had deployed a “very strong team” to Port Harcourt to work with the state’s health authorities.
He added that secondary contacts in Enugu would be followed up till tomorrow (today) when they are all expected to be discharged from surveillance.
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