By Sola Ogundipe & Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS—Bodies of the four Nigerians, who died of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, have been cremated in line with World Health Organisation, WHO, requirements for disposal of such corpses. The body of the index (first) case, Patrick Sawyer was the first to be cremated on July 25, 2014.
The decision to cremate the bodies, it was gathered, may not be unconnected with the deadly nature of the Ebola Virus which is known to be easily transmissible from human to human during handling of corpses of victims.
A health official at the Emergency Operation Centre, EOC, of the Mainland Hospital, Lagos, who confirmed the development, said the Lagos State Government in following strict guidelines for disposal of the bodies, authorised cremation of all the bodies.
The official who pleaded anonymity said the decision to cremate all bodies was to ensure appropriate containment measures and guarantee proper handling of the bodies.
“All the bodies of those who died of Ebola from this centre have been cremated. None was allowed to undergo traditional burial because extreme care is being taken to prevent further infections,” the official noted.
The WHO in recommending that people who die from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried, notes that cremation, which is the application of high temperature to reduce bodies to basic chemical components (ashes), is ideal for safe disposal of bodies of such persons in order to minimise further transmission.
In a statement weekend, the ECOWAS Commission stated that the remains of its Protocol Assistant at the Lagos Liaison Office, Mr. Salihu Abdulqudir Jatto, who succumbed to the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, on August 12, 2014, had been laid to rest in a private ceremony in Ikorodu, Lagos state.
The statement said a delegation from the Commission had earlier paid a condolence visit to the deceased’s widow and other members of his family.
Jatto was among persons that assisted the American-Liberian Mr. Patrick Sawyer, and contracted the disease from the late Sawyer who took ill on arrival in Nigeria on July 20, 2014 on his way to a regional conference in Calabar, and later died in a Lagos hospital of the EVD.
The statement noted that prior to the burial last Friday, a special prayer service in honour of the deceased was held at the Commission’s Abuja Headquarters. The activity was presided over by Vice President of the Commission Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh who represented the President of the Commission, Kadré Desire Ouédraogo.
Glowing tributes were paid in memory of Jatto, who was variously described as a diligent, passionate, humble and hardworking staff, who died a hero in the course of duty.
Leading the other mourning colleagues in the outpouring of grief, McIntosh described Jatto as “a sharp, young, aggressive goal-getter and a personal friend.
“We are all touched by his death, which is both a personal and collectively loss,” McIntosh said, praying for the repose of Jatto’s soul.
Head of Protocol at the Commission, Mr. Steve Onwuka, narrated examples of Jatto’s unique “unassuming, humble and infectious” character and recalled that Jatto died at a time the world attention was focused on the region, albeit for the Ebola health emergency.
Others who spoke at the occasion, include Mr. Hyacinth Okwu, of the Finance Directorate; Mr. Franck Afanyiakossou, and Mr. Joshua Iyamu, a member of the Staff Association, all acknowledged Jatto’s legacy of service and exemplary character.
They appealed for improvement of the staff welfare and asked for special care of Jatto’s wife and children given the circumstance of his death.
Earlier, Mr. Saihou Njie, of the Human Resources Directorate said the ceremony was part of the traditional gestures of honour to a departed colleague.