By Abiose Adelaja Adams
The minister of health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said on Monday that one more person, who had primary contact with late Patrick Sawyerr, has tested positive to the Ebola virus disease, while 38 new contacts have been traced and put under surveillance.
Sawyerr, the Liberian-American, who died of the virus in Lagos on July 25, was reported to have travelled to Lagos, against warnings from the Liberian health authorities.
The minister had announced last Friday that there were nine confirmed cases of which two had died. (Sawyerr and the Nigerian nurse who treated him), while total contacts tracked was 139.
“As at today the 22nd day since Ebola virus disease first landed in Nigeria, we have a total of 10 cases, while 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case have been placed under surveillance or isolation,” he said.
According to him, the eight are alive and receiving treatment at the isolation unit of the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.
Since the incubation period of the virus is between two to 21days, contacts under surveillance are kept in isolation or monitored for symptoms of the disease such as fever, high body temperature, for up to three weeks from their contact with an infected person. If they do not manifest any symptoms nor test positive to the virus, are released to go about their normal business.
In Nigeria’s case, those under surveillance include all those who had primary contact with Sawyerr; those who had contact with the things or surfaces he touched and those who had contact with those who had primary contacts with him.
They include the laboratory scientists, nurses, doctors that treated him, the airport and security officials and the ECOWAS protocol officers.
The highly infectious Ebola virus disease has killed some 961 persons and infected 1,776 across four West African countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria – since March 2014.
Up until now, there is no cure for Ebola but it can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected persons and practising personal hygiene.
In the wake of the outbreak, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan last week, approved a sum of N1.9 billion (12Million USD) to the National Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Containment Plan, while offering life insurances to health workers and anyone who responds to the ‘call for volunteers’ to manage Ebola patients in the country.
However, the Lagos chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, regrets that it took the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, which had killed up to 61 doctors in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, for the government to know that health workers need life insurance.
The body however urged the government to clearly spell out the terms of the health insurance and make it transparent to the public for it to be considered serious.