Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:43 pm
All Nigeria’s confirmed cases of the virus have been restricted to Lagos since Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer introduced the virus to the commercial city on July 20 before the announcement.
Giving a prognosis of how the virus was transported to the oil city, the minister revealed that a staff of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS who had contact with the late Sawyer in Lagos had evaded surveillance team and travelled to Port Harcourt.
While in Port Harcourt, the ECOWAS staff fell ill and consulted a doctor. He later returned to Lagos and recovered from the disease. Unfortunately, the doctor who treated his in Port Harcourt contracted Ebola and died last Friday from the disease.
The minister said doctor’s widow, too, is now symptomatic and has been quarantined.
Chukwu said, “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.
Even though presently he does not have EVD, further laboratory tests indicated that he had suffered EVD.
“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 had been thoroughly investigated and laboratory analysis showed that this 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.
“The Incident Management Committee has already deployed a very strong team to Port Harcourt to work with the health authorities of Rivers State.
“Just like the situation has effectively been managed in Lagos and Enugu, the situation in Port Harcourt will also similarly be effectively managed and we have begun to do so,” he said.
The minister asked residents of Port Harcourt not to panic over this situation.
”As the experience we have gathered from Lagos and Enugu respectively indicate that there is no cause for alarm when you have the government fully in control of the situation,” he said.
The new cases reported in Port Harcourt has now dampened euphoria over imminent containment of the disease as announced by the health minister last Tuesday. Chukwu announced on Tuesday told journalists that two more patients of EVD, a male doctor and a female nurse were discharged the previous day evening after they were certified free of the disease.
The minister thus announced that Nigeria only has only one confirmed case of EVD, a secondary contact of Mr. Patrick Sawyer’s and spouse of one of the physicians who participated in the management of the index case left under treatment.
He said the patient is an a stable condition, but still on treatment at the Isolation ward in Lagos.
Also, the emergence of the two new patients in Port Harcourt has increased Nigeria number of EVD from 13 to 15 including the index case since the disease was imported into the country.
With the death of the Port Harcourt doctor, Nigeria has now recorded six EVD deaths up from five reported by Chukwu last Tuesday while seven of the infected persons were successfully managed at the Isolation ward in Lagos and have been discharged home.
The 70 persons put under surveillance in Lagos now joins the 128 secondary contacts who have been under surveillance in Lagos.
The minister had on Wednesday warned Nigerians not to roll out the drums over his announcement the previous that the country now has only one confirmed case of the EVD.
Chukwu who spoke to journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja said Nigeria is still at risk of EVD though it has been successful in containing the disease.
Chukwu also noted that as long as there was still a case of Ebola in the world and people were allowed to travel, every country was at risk.
This, the minister said is in addition to the fact Nigeria still has a case under management.
He added that by the definition of the World Health Organisation, one case constitutes an epidemic for Ebola and Lassa Fever because they are deadly.
“And even that case we are still managing must also have had her own third degree contacts; many of whom are part of this number of people that are under surveillance.
“So, until we give a clean bill of health to every contact, we cannot even say we have eliminated the disease,” the minister said while emphasising that the country will only stop being at risk when the very last case of EVD under this current epidemic has gone.
“There is still a chance one of the people under surveillance may fall sick and test positive,” said Chukwu while cautioning Nigeria not to let down their guards on the preventive measures for EVD.