.No Nigerian infected
.Nigerians should stop eating bats
.Domestic animals not carrier of the virus
By Chioma Obinna, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Lawani Mikairu & Daniel Eteghe
The Lagos State Government disclosed, yesterday, that the Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia, Chigozie Obi Nnadozie, three staff of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and 55 others had contact with the victim of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, Patrick Sawyer, who died in Lagos, last Thursday.
The Joint Federal and State Team in collaboration with other health organisations on prevention of Ebola outbreak in Lagos, has begun monitoring of the 59 persons that had contact with the victim, who died of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in a private hospital in Lagos, last week.
Addressing a joint press briefing, yesterday, on the update of the Ebola virus disease, Director National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Professor Abdulsalim Nasidi, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, explained that out of the 59 persons that had contact with the Sawyer in Lagos, 44 were hospital contacts (38 healthcare workers and six laboratory staff) and 15 airport contacts comprising three ECOWAS staff – driver, liaison and protocol officer, Nigerian Ambassador to Monrovia, two nursing staff and five airport passenger handlers.
Appeal for calm
Idris, who appealed for calm, said right now, 20 contacts had been physically screened. “The airline manifest has not been provided by the airline at the time of this report and therefore, the precise number of passenger contacts is yet to be ascertained, especially as two flights were involved Monrovia – Lome and Lome – Lagos. There was no report of medical incident filed and the General Declaration report of the flight.”
Idris who stated categorically that only one case of imported Ebola and one death has been recorded in Lagos, said: “No Nigerian is infected, but all contacts are being actively followed. We call on all Nigerians to be calm and not panic and I do hereby assure them that both the state and Federal governments are up in arms to ensure that the virus did not escape and that no Nigeria is infected with this virus,” he stressed.
It was further disclosed that preliminary laboratory investigation conducted by the NCDC AI virology laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, and the Redeemers’ University’s World-Bank Funded African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) detected viral DNA and in both blood and urine samples obtained from the patient were positive for the Pan Filo virus analysis and Ebola Zaire MGB virus strain – specific analysis. Samples were also collected for further confirmation at the WHO, collaborating laboratory for Ebola in Dakar.
Meanwhile, an isolation ward has been designated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for case management. The designation of three other health facilities was said to be under way.
Idris explained that adhering strictly to WHO guidelines, the body of the deceased patient was decontaminated using 10 per cent sodium hypochlorite and cremated, with the permission of the government of Liberia. “A cremation report has been prepared for dispatch to the family. The vehicle that conveyed the remains was also fully decontaminated.”
Nasidi, who allayed fears that EVD cannot be acquired through mere coming into contact with the EVD patient, disclosed that effort to send the packaged sample of the decease to Dakar failed as the courier company turned it down.
“We were disappointed that the courier rejected the sample. That is why we immediately sought the second opinion of World Health Organisation, WHO, recommended laboratory which is International Centre for Genomics. We are still going to dispatch it to Dakar, most likely first thing today but the WHO has accepted this result.”
Nasidi explained further that even dead bodies of EVD could be more dangerous in terms of transmission.
To ensure appropriate case management and infection prevention and control, he explained that an isolation ward has been designated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for case management, adding that the designation of three other health facilities is under way.
Further, he disclosed that a total of 100 Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs, have been procured by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH and distributed to the private hospital and the state Ministry of Health and WHO also donated 250 PPEs to the NCDC/FMOH.
On how the corpse was decomposed, the Commissioner said the state adhered strictly to WHO guidelines, the body of the deceased patient was de-contaminated, using 10 per cent sodium hypochlorite and cremated, with the permission of the government of Liberia. “A cremation report has been prepared for dispatch to the family. The vehicle that conveyed the remains was also fully decontaminated,” he added.
Recognising the importance of involving the community early in the response, he stated that already the various communities, traditional and religious leaders have been alerted about the disease and urged to report promptly to healthcare workers of any suspected case.
Categories of EVD
Explaining categories of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, spread, he explained that “those who come in direct contact of excretions of the dead are primary high risk group; the second group are those that come in contact with facilities used to actually treat or handle these patients; the third category are those who come in contact with those who came in very closed contact with the victim or the dead body. However, the fourth category is those who are within the areas of active transmission of the virus.
“It is also important we clarify a question of whether any of the contacts has been tested - the two laboratories are on standby for 24 hours and we have the APIN and the laboratory committee on the group screening one on one, and taking temperature of the contacts twice a day – morning and evening. We are following WHO criteria and the special protocol that you screen only the blood of only those contacts that start developing symptoms. We are going to identify few of them that we’d already known that came directly in contact with the blood of the deceased while managing him,” he added.
Warning communities that eat bats, he said this is the time for them to desist from consuming it. Similarly, he noted that some communities that worship bats and keep them in their houses should be very careful and stop the act.
On burial ceremonies of people who died from EVD, he said it had been shown that 40 per cent of the cases of Ebola virus spread was from the mishandling of the burial of the dead bodies. He warned that in case of any Ebola death, people should not just go and bury but contact public health officials.
President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Oyewale Tomori, who commended the state government for its prompt response, harped on the rules of hand washing and infection control. “There is no need for panic if we follow the rules of hand washing and infection control. There is need for Nigerians to be at alert as it is happening within the West African countries. There is absolutely no need to panic, he insisted.
“Where it has spread, it is because people have abandoned the rules of hand washing and infection control; we shouldn’t have diseases like Ebola if we maintain the rules of hand washing. Where people have followed the rules of hand washing, we must be at alert; we are not out of the wood yet. We must continue to be at alert. We need to be washing our hands but no reason to panic.” He explained that domestic animals are not carriers of Ebola virus and people who are rearing domestic animals such as pig should not be afraid.
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina urged residents and health officials in the state to report any suspected case of Ebola virus immediately. Adeshina appealed to residents to reduce the risk of contracting the disease by observing high standard of hygiene through washing of hands often with soap and water.
“Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and ensure that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed because fluids from an infected person are extremely dangerous,” Adeshina urged residents.
NCAA suspends A_SKY Airline operations to Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, yesterday, said it has suspended all A_SKY Airline operations to Nigeria with immediate effect. The airline flew the Liberian infected with the Ebola virus into Lagos, which has created panic and diverted world attention to Nigeria.