Woman tests positive to Ebola as Nigeria seeks drug from Japan
A medical doctor and a pharmacist who were quarantined at the Rivers State Ebola treatment centre have been discharged, having tested negative to the deadly disease.
They were among the personnel who managed the late Dr. Ikechukwu Sam. Enemuo at his SamSteel Hospital in Port Harcourt when he became symptomatic of Ebola disease. He died penultimate Friday in another hospital.
The doctor and pharmacist were his workers. They had feverish conditions as high as could suggest the disease, and were quarantined on Saturday alongside Enemuo’s hospital room mate at Good Hart Hospital where he died. Their test results were negative and they have been released from the centre, but the ex-Good Hart patient was not that lucky. She tested positive to the virus and is receiving treatment at the centre.
Commissioner for Health Dr. Sampson Parker, in a situation report he released yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, said the late Enemuo’s sister in-law, simply identified as Chinyere, who was with him during his illness, had been admitted at the quarantine centre. She ran off to Abia State after the death of her in-law, but has been brought back by the Ebola Emergency Operation Committee (EOC). She became feverish in Port Harcourt and was isolated. Her test result is being awaited.
The Commissioner said over 200 contacts of the late Enemuo had been traced and put under watch; 50 of them are classified high-risk and 60 are in hiding. He appealed to them to come out, so they could be monitored for their safety and that of the public. The disease, said Parker, could be treated if discovered on time .
Parker noted that the contacts that ran to Imo and Benue states had been called back to Port Harcourt, but that of Akwa-Ibom could not be reached. He said the assistance of the State Security Services (SSS) in Akwa-Ibom State had been employed to track and send her back to Port Harcourt.
The commissioner said four doctors, eight nurses and six expatriates, all volunteers, are working at the centre while another batch is under going training to join them.
Parker said the Federal and State governments were not relenting in their efforts to ensure that the virus does not claim more lives in the country. Three medical doctors, including Enemuo, have died of the virus.
The late Enemuo contracted the disease when he treated a Nigerian diplomat, Oluibukun Koye, who had contact with the index case, Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer.
Koye sneaked into Port Harcourt from the Lagos Isolation centre where he was placed under watch. He is alive and well.
To forestall Ebola’s spread, the remains of Enemuo and several others at the University of Port Harcourt (UPTH) mortuary would be buried in Port Harcourt this week, under the supervision of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Parker classified the bodies as high-risk, adding that they would not be allowed to leave Port Harcourt.
He said: “Dr. Enemuo’s sister in-law, who ran off to Abia State after the death of her in-law, has returned to Port Harcourt. She has become symptomatic and now at the treatment centre.
“Results of the three patients we earlier admitted at the centre are out; two of them tested negative, one tested positive. The two persons who tested negative have been discharged and have left. However, we will repeat the test after 21 days.
“The one tested positive person shared room with late Enemuo at the Good Hart Hospital.
“As we continue together in this fight, it is important that you be vigilant. In fact we screen ourselves in our Ebola Emergency Operation Committee (EOC) meetings now, in-case there was any error made in the field.
“Country Director of World Health Organisation(WHO) and Director of National Centre for Disease Control were with us in the meeting and we have decided that within this week, Enemuo’s body and other high-risk bodies in UPTH mortuary will be buried according to WHO protocol, meaning that they will not leave Port Harcourt.
“The government will not allow the movement of either Enemuos’ body or any of those considered high-risk to leave Port Harcourt. They will be buried under the supervision of WHO, officials of the Ministry of Health and other officials, so that we don’t expose the relatives to danger.
“We will take care of all the safety measures, families/relatives of the bodies will all be there to do whatever rite they want to do for their deceased, but we will not allow them to touch the body. Management of the bodies will be strictly under WHO protocols.
“And I can tell you here that none of the people involved in managing Ebola patients both here (Port Harcourt) and Lagos has had any issue; there is high mark of safety for Nigerians in this business.
“Let me assure you again that Ebola Virus Disease is not a death sentence, in as much as we get those that have contracted it early.
“We still want to encourage those persons that are listed that we have not seen, to come up. We have a lady that went to Akwa-Ibom State from the hotel; we are still to get to her, we’ve sent her trackmen through the SSS officials to Akwa Ibom, the one that went to Imo State returned yesterday, she is still ok, but we don’t want to take chances. We don’t want to fall into the same trick Oluibukun Koye played us here in Port Harcourt.”
At the treatment centre are four doctors, eight nurses and six expatriate officials (Doctors without Border) – all volunteers. The number is still counting, because we have sent in more volunteers for training before they could be allowed to go to the treatment centre.
Parker added: “We have earlier trained over 500 people on Ebola management in our on-going training for health officials in the state, but we considered it necessary to yet train those that have volunteered at the centre before we can allow them to operate.
“Like Enemuo wore protective gadgets, but the issue is not wearing it to do the job; the issue is on removing the gears; that is the point at which the infection is contracted.”
Reacting to a statement credited to the Minister of State for Education Nnyesom Wike, on the disease in Rivers State, Parker described him as “an apology”.
Wike reportedly said the spread of the disease into the state was as a result of the government’s insensitivity. The commissioner expressed regrets at Wike’s statement, saying that the state made a big mistake by nominating him to the Federal Government for ministerial appointment.
He said how the virus entered the state was common knowledge, adding: “The best thing is to ignore him, because if I don’t ignore him, it means that he does not even respect his boss the President of Nigeria. The only thing I will say is that maybe we will apologise to the President for nominating him for minister. This is because everybody is now aware of how we got into this challenge; so if a minster of state does not still know, I’m getting very worried that we have done disservice to the government.
“His colleague in the cabinet, the minister of health, has made a broadcast, where he explained how the whole thing happened, not commissioner for Health , but the minister.
“I don’t know what he means by insensitivity. This is a government that before the outbreak, we had spent so much money to go for personal protective equipment, sent officials to go and see how the thing is done, came back and been training members of staff, in case it happens. As at today we have trained more than 500 staff in preparation for Ebola, and someone is saying it is insensitivity.”
Parker went on: “We are not kind of mood and we should not mix politics with what we are doing. Other people are asking us what they can do to help; that is what he should do, he is a Rivers man and should be concerned about the challenge in the state now and rally round the government to face the problem, irrespective of our party affiliation.
“Nobody can fault the health system of Rivers State. Nobody can throw stone on it, because it is unbeatable.
“We are not talking of mass failure in WASC; we are faced with something else now, so we are not talking about that.” He said.