BY ABIOSE ADELAJA ADAMS
The Lagos state government on Wednesday morning announced that it had identified five more people with suspected symptoms of the Ebola Virus Disease.
However, in what looked like a show of authority, the minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has also issued a statement denying that any new cases had been discovered.
The Lagos State Health commissioner had told newsmen in Lagos that the new suspected cases include two secondary contacts and three primary contacts with the index case, Patrick Sawyerr. According to him, the suspected patients had been put at the Ebola Isolation Ward in Yaba and that they would be monitored for the 21 day, the full incubation period of the virus.
However, in a statement from Chukwu’s office signed by his special assistant on media and communication, Dan Nwomeh, the minister said that there were no new cases of Ebola in the country, insisting that “at present, Nigeria has only two confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease.”
The statement said that the clarification followed media reports that there were new cases of suspected infections and asjed that the reports be disregarded.
The minister said that “as at 7 pm today, there is no other confirmed Ebola Virus Disease case in Nigeria outside the two that are currently under treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.”
The statement said further that “the Honourable Minister of Health who has the sole authority to announce confirmed cases as far as disease epidemics in Nigeria are concerned” and asked that information about the Ebola virus should be directed to his office.
The minister’s position directly contradicts that of the Lagos commissioner and has created quite some confusion about the true status of the Ebola disease outbreak in the country
Idris had said: “Till date we have eight suspected cases and five of them came in yesterday. We have 12 confirmed cases and on the whole five have died. We are currently following up 213 contacts and 62 have completed the 21day follow-up.”
The commissioner has held a press briefing to update journalists nearly every day since the outbreak of the epidemic in Lagos about a month ago while the minister too has held briefings in Abuja from time to time.
The minister is said to have relocated fully to Lagos on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan and his action today in repudiating the Lagos commissioner’s figures may be an attempt to take control of the management of the crisis.
Addressing the Press earlier on Wednesday, Idris lamented the death of Adadevoh, a senior consultant at First Consultant Hospital is a huge loss describing her as a heroine.
“It was she who took the initiative to intimate the Ministry concerning the index case, Patrick Sawyer and substantially to her credit the moderate containment achieved is owed.”
“She led the team who attended to the index case .Her doggedness and commitment to duty saw her personally reviewing the case even though the patient had earlier been seen by a doctor.”
It was reported that she and her team had to physically restrain late Sawyer when in a bid to leave the hospital, he forcefully removed his tube, spilling his blood everywhere. That explains why they all were infected. Adadevoh slipped into coma last week, but died on Tuesday.
The commissioner said the state government and its other partners would continue to do its best to ensure effective containment of the disease, while urging residents not to panic but take the necessary measures against the disease.
He advised residents against unprotected contacts with corpses, monkeys and other primary sources of the disease.
Idris called for vigilance as human to human transmission was only achieved by physical contact with a person who was acutely ill from the Ebola virus.
On why some patients die and others survive , the commissioner said chances of survival depended on the immune systems of the affected people and the timing and detail of treatment.
“The survival of patients depends on how early the patient is able to access treatment and that is why we keep begging people that do not hide at home, do not keep yourself as soon as you start developing symptoms.”
“Apart from this, the chances of survival also depends on the innate immune system of patients. And the efficacy of immunity is also dependent on the age. A 27year-old person is in better position to fight any disease than a 50 year-old and a 60 year old because of his age,” he noted