By Abiose Adelaja Adams
The minister of health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, announced on Friday that two more persons who had direct contact with the late Patrick Sawyer, the late Liberian who brought the Ebola disease into Nigeria, have tested positive to the Ebola virus.
Chukwu made the disclosure just as he dismissed rumours that a bath with salt and hot water is a cure for Ebola, calling it “a wicked lie, total fallacy.”
This two new cases are in addition to the earlier seven that had been confirmed during the week, making it a total of nine infected persons and two deaths so far in the country
The minister also said an additional 69 people who had either direct or indirect contact with the Sawyerr have now been traced and are under surveillance. This in addition to the 70 earlier persons puts the number of people being monitored at 139.
“As at today, day 19 after the first index case, we have a total of nine cases of which two are late and seven are alive and are receiving treatment,” he told the press in Lagos.
However, apart from the seven confirmed cases of Ebola infection, Chukwu disclosed that there are still six other suspected cases still being investigated.
“As we talk, we still have six suspected cases under investigation,” he said.
Sawyerr is the first confirmed death from Ebola virus in Nigeria. He died in Lagos on July 25. On Tuesday, August 5, Nigeria recorded its first indigenous fatality as a nurse who treated the Liberian died.
The others whom he infected with the virus are quarantined at the Isolation ward at the Infectious Disease Hospital. According to Chuckwu, by the 21st day (which is the end of the incubation period for the virus), any of those under surveillance who do not test positive will be allowed to go home.
Ebola virus is one of the most virulent viral diseases known to human kind. The disease which was discovered in 1976 in East Africa, is currently ravaging West Africa and has since killed 933 persons with 1,712 infected.
The WHO has not authorized any vaccine or other treatment for it. Prevention has so far been the best form of disease control.
The minister encourages Nigerians to regularly wash their hands with soap
“We are learning a lesson from Liberia” he stated, adding that “if sanitizers are too expensive, you can pour some Jik or bleach in water and use it. It is cheap yet effective.”
He however, dispelled rumours by people urging others to bathe with hot
water and salt.
“Some evil minded persons have been circulating and claiming that ordinary hot water and salt is effective against Ebola; it is a complete lie, a wicked lie, a total fallacy.”
“We will fish out the people and they will be arrested and prosecuted,” he assured.
He added that the government had approved money for the provision of additional materials needed to employ more people, as this has been one of the challenges to tracing contacts.