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Eight Persons Quarantined as Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

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Eight Persons Quarantined as Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

First Consultants: Test results still awaited from LUTH, WHO lab in Senegal

FG inaugurates c’ttee on research, cure for virus, debunks claim bitter kola is a cure

US sends 50 experts to W’Africa as S’Korea rejects three Nigerians

LUTH screens patients, starts training of personnel

Death toll rises to 887 in sub-region

Chiemelie Ezeobi, Gboyega Akinsanmi  , Paul Obi   and Amby Uneze 
In confirmation of the fears of the public that the American-Liberian, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who succumbed to the infectious Ebola virus in Lagos less than two weeks ago, may have spread the dreaded disease before his death, the federal and Lagos State Governments yesterday confirmed the second case of Ebola in the country.

Speaking on the development, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, in separate news conferences in Abuja and Lagos, said the new case was as a result of the contact a female doctor from First Consultants Medical Centre, a Lagos-based hospital, had with Sawyer where the Liberian was treated before his death.

This is the first recorded case where a Nigerian has been confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus.
However, when contacted, a reliable source in First Consultants informed THISDAY that the hospital was still awaiting the laboratory results on the doctor as well as seven others who came in contact with Sawyer, but have been quarantined.

A senior consultant with the hospital said: “We cannot at this time verify that the doctor has tested positive as we are still awaiting the preliminary laboratory results from LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) as well as confirmatory results from the WHO (World Health Organisation) virology lab in Senegal.

“Until these arrive, we cannot confirm that the doctor or others have contracted Ebola. I do not know where the government got its own results or information from but we are still calling the lab in Lagos for preliminary results.”
He said it took First Consultants to blow the whistle on the presence of the epidemic in Nigeria, adding, “Everyone now has to be careful.”

The consultant also lamented the fact that Nigeria lacked a top-notch diagnostic laboratory where diseases like Ebola could be tested, stating: “This says a lot about Nigeria that we had to move our blood samples to Senegal. We ought to focus on making resources available to undertake proper diagnosis of diseases.”

Although, for professional reasons, he declined to disclose the identity of the medical personnel from his hospital who had been quarantined or where they were being kept in an isolation ward, other sources revealed that in addition to the female doctor, others who had been isolated included two nurses, the cleaners who washed the beddings used by Sawyer and mortuary attendants who handled his corpse.

Of the eight, the sources said the doctor and nurses were showing symptoms of the virus.
However, during the briefing in Abuja, the Minister of Health said: “When we met last week, I told you that we were still monitoring some of the healthcare workers and passengers who came in contact with the American-Liberian who brought Ebola to Nigeria. There were others who attended to him, some have developed symptoms of Ebola.

“As of today, we now have a case; this is the second case of the Ebola virus in Nigeria. This is the doctor who attended to the Ebola patient in Nigeria.”

Continuing, Chukwu said three others were under watch, adding: “At the end of today (yesterday), we will know the outcome. Eight of those who had contact with Mr. Sawyer have been quarantined, while 70 of those who had contact with the patient are under surveillance.”

The minister explained that all of the eight persons had been quarantined in Lagos where the state government had provided isolation wards.

“Beyond Lagos State, the federal government is working with each state to strengthen isolation wards, and on emergency coordination of the health workforce on Ebola around the borders,” Chukwu added.
He said places like Idi Iroko and Seme borders had been given new directives and equipment to screen persons entering the country without having contact with such persons.

Chukwu further pointed out that the ban imposed on airlines to stop them from conveying corpses from Ebola-endemic countries for burial in Nigeria was still in force. The affected countries are Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Taking time to clear the air on cases where corpses were brought in from Liberia, Chukwu said: “In the case of Imo State, we have carried out the investigation and found out that there was a dead certificate and it was not an Ebola case, so we have asked the Commissioner for Health in Imo State to go ahead with the burial of the person. But for Anambra State and Akwa Ibom State, investigations are still ongoing; they are still under watch.”

The minister also debunked claims making the rounds, especially on social media, that bitter kola – an African fruit with medicinal qualities – can cure and as well prevent the Ebola virus, stating, “There is no scientific evidence that the use of bitter kola cures or prevents Ebola.

“Though the research on bitter kola was not concluded, no progress can be made without research. For now, there is no scientifically proven vaccine or drug for the treatment of Ebola.”

Panel on Ebola Inaugurated

But in a bid to check the spread of the disease, the minister further revealed that the federal government had inaugurated the Treatment Research Group Committee on Ebola Virus Disease.
While inaugurating the committee, Chukwu observed that Nigeria must expedite action in the area of research as a strategic way of taming the spread of the virus.

The committee has the Director General of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, and the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Innocent Ujah, as co-chairmen.

Other members include the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu; Prof. Andullraman Nasidi of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); Dr. Sani Gwarzo of the Port Health Service; Director of Public Health,  Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguela; and Director of Health Planning and Research,  Mrs. Asa Ogu.

The terms of reference of the committee include the coordination of research on the treatment and prevention of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD); receive and verify claims of Ebola disease; collate all related research findings around the world on Ebola; and advise government as may be appropriate on such matter.

Lagos Confirms Female Doctor Tests Positive

Also, confirming the presence of the virus in Nigeria, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health who spoke to reporters alongside the Project Director of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof. Nasidi, among others, said one person “has tested positive out of the eight persons under observation”.

According to him, the patients are all persons who had personal contact with Sawyer.
Idris added that the patients would remain in isolation until they were deemed free of the deadly virus that had killed more than 800 persons in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

However, the commissioner declined to reveal the identity of the female doctor who had tested positive to the virus, stating that it was against the ethics of the profession to disclose a patient's personal information.
In his remarks, Nasidi, who is the head of federal delegation on Ebola in Lagos, debunked speculations that the patient was dead, stressing, “It is not true that the patient is dead. She is alive. But we have experts on ground. She is currently being treated."

Even though Idris declined to give the patient's identity, Nasidi confirmed that the patient “is female and a medical doctor, who had direct contact with the Ebola victim”.
He said: “We are taking precaution at different levels to contain the spread of the virus. All citizens need to give support in order to stop the spread of the Ebola virus.”

LUTH Screens Patients, Trains Personnel

When THISDAY contacted LUTH to ascertain if the eight members of staff of First Consultants were on admission in an isolation ward in the teaching hospital, the Public Relations Officer of LUTH, Mrs. Hope Nwawolo, said: “No case of any doctor confirmed with the virus is in the hospital.”

She added, however, that LUTH was currently training its medical personnel and caregivers on what to look out for when treating patients, as well as on preventative measures.
“In addition, we are currently screening new patients to check for the virus before admitting them into the hospital. That way, they get to eliminate the chances of its spread to other admitted patients,” she said.

US Sends 50 Experts to W’Africa

In response to the spread of the virus in the West African sub-region, the United States plans to send 50 health experts to West Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak that has left hundreds of people dead in three countries, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days,” he added.
Frieden said the 50 experts from the CDC would work to combat the outbreak and help implement stronger systems to fight the disease.

ECOWAS, Imo State Move to Check Disease

In addition, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stepped in to check the Ebola epidemic in some regional states and is currently cooperating with member states and international partners to stem its spread.

Speaking on the intervention, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Desire Ouédraogo, stated that the commission considered the outbreak as a regional security threat.

He disclosed that under the directive by Heads of State and Government to the Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), an Ebola Solidarity Fund had been set up to ensure that all affected countries are supported to rid the region of the disease.

The president of the body, who spoke while accrediting the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Gu Xiaojie to ECOWAS, during a short ceremony at the commission’s Abuja headquarters, recalled that most of the casualties from the disease in the region had been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with Nigeria recording one death.

The ECOWAS chief informed the ambassador that the leaders of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, WHO and other senior officials were due to meet in Conakry, Guinea, during the weekend as part of efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy and mechanism to eradicate the disease.

Speaking after presenting his Letter of Credence to President Ouédraogo, Ambassador Xiaojie expressed China’s sympathy and solidarity with ECOWAS and the affected member states, and pledged his country’s support in combating the disease.

To complement the efforts of the US, the Nigerian Government and ECOWAS, the Imo State Government yesterday also announced precautionary measures to tackle the scourge of the Ebola virus, in the event it rears its head in the state.

To this end, the state government has directed all medical personnel operating in Imo to refer all suspected cases of the Ebola disease to the specified Infectious Disease Units (IDU) for proper handling.

The units are Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu; the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri; and the Imo Specialist Hospital, Umuguma.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Edward Ihejirika, made this known at a media briefing and the commencement of the 2014 World Breastfeeding Week celebration held in Owerri at the weekend.
He advised individuals to report all cases of the disease immediately to the nearest health facility or the state epidemiologists to avoid contracting it.

WHO: Death Toll Rises to 887

But as West African governments scramble to combat the virus, WHO confirmed yesterday that the death toll as a result of Ebola had risen from 729 to 887 in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Most of the newly reported deaths occurred in Liberia, where a special plane to evacuate a second American missionary, Nancy Writebol, who fell ill with Ebola landed in the capital yesterday night.

The missionary is expected to arrive in Atlanta today, where she will be treated at a special isolation ward.
Health authorities in Liberia ordered that all those who die from Ebola be cremated after communities resisted having the bodies buried nearby, reported AP.

Over the weekend, military police were called in after people tried to block health authorities in Liberia from burying 22 bodies on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia.

Nigerian authorities said a total of 70 people were under surveillance and that eight people who came in contact with Sawyer had been quarantined in an isolation ward in Lagos.
The emergence there is particularly worrisome because Lagos is the largest city in Africa with some 21 million people.

Health officials rely on “contact tracing” - locating anyone who may have been exposed, and then anyone who may have come into contact with that person.

Ben Neuman, a virologist and Ebola expert at Britain’s University of Reading, said that could prove difficult at this stage.
“Contact tracing is essential but it’s very hard to get enough people to do that,” he said. “For the average case, you want to look back and catch the 20-30 people they had closest contact with and that takes a lot of effort and legwork... The most important thing now is to do the contact tracing and quarantine any contacts who may be symptomatic.”

Three Nigerian Students Barred from S’Korea

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that a South Korean university rescinded an invitation for three Nigerians to attend a conference while a group of South Korean medical volunteers called off a trip to West Africa amid growing concerns about the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Duksung Women’s University in Seoul said in a statement that the school “politely withdrew” its invitation for three Nigerian students to attend an international conference that it was co-hosting with the United Nations.
Fear about a possible spread of the deadly virus had prompted a student from the university to post a plea on the country’s presidential office web site, asking for the cancellation of the entire event.

The university had said it was going ahead with the conference to be attended by students, including 28 from Africa.
South Korea yesterday also issued a special travel advisory asking people to refrain from visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while a group of South Korean medical volunteer workers scrapped an annual trip to African countries including Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana scheduled for August.

South Korean bloggers had posted online petitions, including one urging its missionaries working in the region to be barred from returning home.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Ebola Virus     Chiemelie Ezeobi     Gboyega Akinsanmi     Paul Obi     Amby Uneze     Mr. Patrick Sawyer     Dr. Jide Idris