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Fashola: Ebola Victims Now Stable, Five Showing Signs of Recovery

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Monday said all the patients who had tested positive to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and currently undergoing treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, were in “stable condition”.

The governor also explained that while the health status of the victims of the deadly virus had not deteriorated, five of them were “really improving,” adding, “Ebola is not an automatic death sentence.”

However, the governor’s positive news on the Ebola patients coincided with the confirmation by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, that another Nigerian, a nurse, had tested positive for the virus, while 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case had been placed under surveillance or isolation.

Even as the minister gave the update on the efforts by government to contain the virus, it was revealed yesterday that a letter written by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) had asked the health ministry to take timely and proactive measures against the deadly disease but it failed to do so.

This is just as President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday described the actions of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian national who escaped quarantine after contracting the Ebola virus in his home country and travelled to Lagos, as “pure madness and craziness”.

Fahsola, who gave the situation report on the response of the Ebola victims to treatment at different meetings with religious leaders, chairmen and health workers of the 57 local councils in the state, said two deaths – the Liberian and the nurse had been recorded.

“We now have 10 persons in isolation that are receiving treatment. Eight of them have been confirmed positive for the Ebola Virus Disease. We are still waiting for the results of the remaining two persons.

"All of them are stable, which means that they are not deteriorating. Five of them have really improved. This means they are fighting back. It confirms that Ebola is not an automatic death sentence if we do the right thing at the right time,” he said.

At the meeting with religious leaders, Fashola urged them to be honest with their congregations about the deadly virus, warning that Ebola was “not something to be ashamed of.  This is a disease and it is a disease one can fully recover from if the right thing is done”.

He explained that high temperature was the first sign of the disease, but not every person that presented a high temperature had been infected with the virus. “High temperature can be as a result of malaria or typhoid fever,” he said.

He also spoke on the dangers of not tracing all those who made contact with Ebola victims, saying if nine persons were traced and one escaped, thousands of people would still be at risk until the 10th person is found.

Patchy Airport Screening

Alongside his deputy, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the governor also had a closed-door meeting with the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Mike Purves, Consul-General of France to Nigeria, Mr. Francois Sastourne, as well as his counterparts from the Italian Embassy and United States, Mr. Stefano De Leo.

Relaying what transpired at the meeting, Fashola said the diplomats complained about the screening at the Mohammed Murtala International Airport (MMIA), adding that the port health officials were not conducting the screening in accordance with what was shown on the television.
“This was because the British High Commission asked some of their citizens who came into the country about the screening at the airport. Some said they screened them, some said they were not screened. I am saying that the British High Commission said that the screening is patchy,” he said.

According to him, the fight against the virus “must be collective. The federal government will do its own part of the job-monitor all the borders and others. We, the state government, must also do our own part in ensuring that the fight against the scourge is won”.

Jonathan Incensed by Sawyers' Actions

Also commenting on the virus, Jonathan, who spoke at the annual interfaith conference in Abuja, expressed his disappointment in the manner Sawyer brought Ebola to Nigeria, but assured citizens that the federal government was ready to confront the virus head on.
“As a government, we promise that we will do everything humanly possible to contain the Ebola virus.

It is unfortunate that one mad man brought Ebola to us, we will try to contain it," he said.
While urging religious leaders to help solve the Ebola problem, Jonathan informed the gathering that the federal government planned to rally the 36 state governors and their Commissioners for Health to rescue the nation from further spread of the disease.

“On Wednesday, I will meet with governors of the states, and they must come with their Commissioners for Health. We must make sure that every state is prepared; where they lack, the federal government will support them,” he said.

The president explained that his discussion with the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) had given him more information about the virus, assuring the gathering that the virus would be stopped from causing more harm.

“My conversation with the WHO DG, Dr. Margaret Chan, was revealing. She said 60 per cent of transmissions were spread during burials.  That is why in my pronouncements, I've been saying that people should be careful about burials.

“Some people like burial ceremonies. But this is not the time for burial ceremonies. If somebody is dead, he is dead, leave him there. This is not the best time for those ceremonies.
“Sawyer that brought this Ebola to Nigeria; his sister died of Ebola. His country asked him not to leave the country, let them observe him, but the crazy man decided to leave and found his way here,” he said.

Trauma Centre Inaugurated

As part of measures to check the spread of Ebola, the president, after the interfaith conference, inaugurated the first National Trauma Centre in Abuja, with a call on Nigerians to avoid panic and remain alert to check further spread of the virus in the country.

Inaugurating the centre at the National Hospital, the president, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, expressed regrets that the emergence of the disease in Nigeria was due to migration.

He enjoined all Nigerians to take precautionary measures against the disease, saying the government had put in place measures and facilities for detection and management of the disease.

Jonathan said the provision of the trauma centre was in fulfillment of the cardinal objective of the ongoing transformation agenda of his administration, as prioritised in the National Strategic Health Development Plan.

According to him, the federal government was modernising medical diagnostic centres as well as upgrading several tertiary healthcare facilities to meet international standards.

Nurse Tests Positive

Meanwhile, the federal government said yesterday that one new case with the Ebola virus was recorded over the weekend, bringing the number of persons who had tested positive in the country to 10.

The Minister of Health at a press conference, said: “It has been 22 days since EVD first landed in Nigeria. As at today, 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case have been placed under surveillance or isolation.

“Nine had developed EVD, bringing the total number of cases in Nigeria to 10. Of these 10, two have died – the Liberian-American and the Nigerian nurse – while eight  are alive and are currently being treated.”
The minister along with the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam, Interior Minister, Abba Moro, Special Duties Minister, Tanimu Turaki and Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, stated that Nigeria “wishes to emphasise that it essentially remained an Ebola virus-free country until this incidence of importation and unfortunate contamination.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders, local and international partners to maximise on this and intensify efforts to contain and treat the existing cases”.

Elaborating on Nigeria’s efforts to tame the spread of the virus, Chukwu said government’s role at the recent meeting in Accra, Ghana, projected Nigeria's  “leading, pioneering and compassionate role during the summit with the first and only donation of $3.5 million for humanitarian and capacity building aid to the three affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), and the ECOWAS Ebola Fund”.

On the role of the Liberian government, Chukwu said: “The Liberian Government has expressed its deepest sympathies and regrets that Mr. Sawyer had even embarked on this tragic journey, which has brought needless sufferings, death and has placed an unnecessary stress on our health system. 

“In the same spirit, we share in solidarity, the grief of the governments and people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as we confront this challenge together.”

The minister further urged Nigerians not to see Liberia and her citizens in a bad light considering the harmonious relationship the two countries have had over the years.

He said aside from working with the US government in the areas of collaboration, the government was also looking at other options in terms of drugs that could be used to treat Ebola patients.

He said Nigeria’s quest to get hold of a drug that would bring relief to Ebola patients was “still work-in-progress”, adding that healthcare workers entrusted with providing care for patients had been given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent them from contracting the virus.

Chukwu, who stated that the Ebola virus was restricted to Lagos State, also reiterated the resolve of the federal government to find a solution to the lingering crisis between it and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), especially on the need to call off the nationwide strike.

FG, States Adopt Emergency Measures

The minister also spoke on the emergency measures being adopted by the federal government and the 36 states of the federation.

Speaking at the National Council on Health meeting between the federal government and all the state Commissioners for Health, Chukwu said: “Close collaboration between the federal authorities, the states and local governments has become imperative as a strategic measure to restrict the spread of virus to only the current locations where there are confirmed cases.

“There is hardly any way we can have an effective surveillance and containment strategy without the collaboration of state governments.”

He urged the commissioners to rise up to the National Public Health Emergency and replicate the actions being taken at the federal level at the state level.

“We should all endeavour to provide appropriate correct information to our people and urgently dispel rumours. While ensuring that our citizens are well sensitised on these prevention strategies, our health workers should be well protected and all states should be prepared to attend to any emergency that may arise,” he told the commissioners.

The government also listed some centres where clinical tests for Ebola disease could be examined and confirmed.

Chukwu said: “Presently, laboratory diagnosis of EVD can be made in LUTH, Redeemer’s University laboratory, UCH Ibadan and NCDC, Asokoro, Abuja."

ONSA Blames Ministry for Complacency

But as Chukwu gave updates on the Ebola virus and met with commissioners for health, it also emerged yesterday that the Office of the NSA had written to his ministry to take timely action and proactively prevent the spread of the killer disease but the warning was ignored. 

According to a highly-placed presidency source who spoke on the issue, “It is regrettable how the officials of the Federal Ministry of Health ignored the directive given by the Office of the NSA to ensure the dreaded disease did the make its way into the country.
“The presence of Ebola disease in Nigeria is the failure of the Federal Ministry of Health to rise up to the disease long before the arrival of the American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, to Nigeria who brought the virus to the country through Lagos.”

The source added: “There was a letter written to the Federal Ministry of Health about the outbreak of the Ebola disease in the sub-region long before the man came to Nigeria, asking them to put in place a preventive measure but this was not done.

“The measures, I was told, would have involved putting a screening machine in all our airports and with that, that Liberian man would not have been here. But they did nothing. I am sure the minister must have directed them and those civil servants ignored his directive. See what they have caused us now.”

He said until the index case arrived Nigeria’s shores, the health ministry did nothing and in fact had failed to revert to ONSA.

In the letter obtained by THISDAY, dated July 10, 2014, and was signed by Brigadier General TT Waya (rtd) for the NSA, it said: “On 7 April, 2014, there was a reported outbreak of Ebola disease in the West African country of Guinea.

“This is reported to be the deadliest outbreak in the number of cases and its geographical spread - affecting 3 countries - Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and has infected over 600 people and killed 367 as at 26 June 2014, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Last week, there was an isolated case reported in Ghana. With this development, Ebola disease could be said to be on Nigeria’s doorstep.

“An outbreak of the disease in Nigeria would obviously have security implications. Consequently, I am directed to forward to you the Crisis Management Guidelines for your ministry’s preparedness and response to an eventual outbreak of the disease.

“The guidelines will assist the Honourable Minister in preparing a working plan to deal with the outbreak as well as to warn and inform the public among others. The guidelines is (sic) attached as Annex A.

“I am further directed to inform you that the preparation for the briefing can be done in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) Presidential Communication, Command and Control Centre (PC4), located in the State House.
“Please, accept the assurances of the NSA’s consideration.”   

Cote d'Ivoire Bans Flights from Nigeria, Others

However, as the four West African countries with confirmed cases of Ebola continued to grapple with measures to contain the virus, Cote d’Ivoire announced yesterday that it had banned all flights from countries hit by Ebola.

The government said in a statement that it had forbidden all “carriers from transporting passengers” from these countries.

It has also decided “on the suspension until further notice” flights by its national airline, Air Cote d’Ivoire, to and from these locations, AFP reported.

The government did not name the countries but nearly 1,000 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, Sierre Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, which are all in West Africa.

The government said it had also decided to increase preventive measures at Abidjan airport where “all passengers on arrival will have to have their temperatures taken with an infrared thermometer”.

No case of Ebola has surfaced in Cote d’Ivoire, which began implementing measures to prevent the spread of the disease in March.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Mr. Babatunde Fashola     Ebola Virus Disease     Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu     President Goodluck Jonathan     ONSA     Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire     Mr. Mike Purves     Mr. Francois Sastourne