By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna, Olasunkanmi Akoni and Demola Akinyemi
*Total of 12 EVD cases, four deaths. five recovering
* 189 under surveillance in Lagos, six in Enugu
* new 40-bed isolation ward in operation
* Nano Silver dropped, other candidate drugs under evaluation
The first Nigerian Ebola patient has been discharged from the quarantine unit of the Emergency Operation Centre, EOC, at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.
News of the discharge of the unnamed female doctor, who was one of the primary contacts of the late American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer, was broken, yesterday evening, by Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu .
Chukwu, accompanied by Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, and others on the Joint Federal/State EVD response team, to give an update on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria, said the discharged patient had been given a clean bill of health to go home
His words : “The EOC has advised me to announce that the first Nigerian to be confirmed to have Ebola Virus Disease has this evening been discharged from the isolation unit at the Mainland Hospital, Lagos.
“I have consulted with the experts, and they said clearly that there was a discharge protocol that was employed for this particular patient. It has been followed strictly and was concluded today and what you are getting now is the final outcome.
“Ordinarily, if she had been afflicted with another illness, she would have been discharged long before now”.
Earlier, the minister pointed out that five of other Ebola patients had almost fully recovered.
“The total number of confirmed cases of EVD in the country was now 12, with four deaths and 189 under surveillance in Lagos and six in Enugu,” he stated.
Responding to questions concerning the welfare of the Ebola victims under the care of the response team at the EOC , Chukwu allayed the fear regarding the standard and quality of care.
“As you are aware, the patients under treatment have now been moved to the new 40-bed capacity isolation ward provided by Lagos State government. Additional equipment has also been made available to the new isolation ward by the Federal Government”.
On the controversy surrounding the experimental Ebola drug being proposed for adoption by the Federal Government, the minister said the drug failed to meet the requirements for approval.
“You will recall that, last Thursday, I announced that we were ready to deploy an experimental drug, Nano Silver; it was not cleared by the National Health Research Ethics Committee.
“Although the drug has since been made available to the EOC in Lagos, it has not been administered on any patient because we were awaiting clearance by the National Health Research Ethics Committee.
“I regret to inform you that the drug did not meet the requirements of the National Health Research Ethics Code. Accordingly, approval for its use was withheld by the National Health Research Ethics Committee.”
The minister, however, informed that the other candidate drugs were under evaluation by the Treatment Research Group for EVD.
“As soon as any of the experimental drugs is cleared by the National Health Research Ethics Committee and made available, we shall incident it in the treatment regeneration subject to the informed consent of the patient,” he stated.
Ebola may escalate
In the meantime, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), yesterday, said Ebola may escalate in the country as majority of the health personnel working on the management, monitoring and surveillance have been sacked.
NMA warned about the risk of the deadly virus spreading at an alarming rate following the sack of 16,000 resident doctors, most of whom were said to be involved in the move to contain the virus.
The NMA said the doctors, although on strike, had made their services available to government in the bid to combat Ebola.
The association vowed not to resume talks with government until it unconditionally reverses the sack of the doctors.
The Chairman, Lagos State branch of the NMA, Dr Tope Ojo, who disclosed the association’s stand in Lagos, yesterday, said all attempts by government to divide the NMA would be resisted by the association.
“This sack action must have proven the unrepentant hatred of Mr. President and the Federal Government for doctors, considering that since this current regime, several unions have embarked on industrial actions for even longer periods, that witnessed several failed negotiations too, before eventual resolution and same punitive actions were never applied,” the NMA said at a press conference.
The body, however, urged its members to keep volunteering in the management of Ebola.
“This would further worsen the current Ebola scourge because a large majority of volunteers involved in case management and other levels of the Ebola Emergency Response Committee are resident doctors,” Ojo said..
“However, we will continue to participate in the Ebola Response as we have been doing, in spite of the purported sack, so as not to become insensitive to the plight of Nigerians like the Federal Government is demonstrating presently”.
No Ebola death at Lagos General Hospital – State govt
In a related development, Lagos State government, yesterday, said there was no death of any person infected with Ebola at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando or any of its hospitals. In a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, the state government dispelled the rumour making the rounds that an Ebola infected person had died at the government owned hospital in Alimosho. He said the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, addressed the issue during the last Ebola update press briefing, where he assured residents of Lagos that the hospital was safe and medically sound for them to patronize.
As part of the measures to contain the spread of Ebola, the state government, through the Ministry of the Environment, MOE, also yesterday, trained about 800 health workers and volunteers in all the 57 local governments and local council development areas on preventive measures.
Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Tunji Bello, who made the disclosure at a sensitisation campaign tagged: “Train the trainers’ Educative programme”, also said that government would not hesitate to invoke any relevant section of the laws on anyone who flouts the environmental laws.
The commissioner warned residents to desist from unsafe and unhealthy practices so as not to contract EVD, urging them not to attempt hiding persons with suspected symptoms of Ebola as government has the right to quarantine or isolate such persons to prevent the disease from spreading.
OSOGBO FESTIVAL: Osun stops tourists
Reports from Osun State, yesterday, said that following the outbreak of Ebola in the country, the state government barred tourists from participating in the forthcoming Osun Osogbo annual festival.
This, the government said, was part of measures to prevent the spread of Ebola to the state.
Addressing a press conference in Osogbo, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, noted that efforts were being taken by the state government to make Osun an Ebola free state.
Akere, who lamented the high spread of the Ebola virus, stressed the need for traditionalists, especially Osun devotees, to co-operate with the state government in its bid to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
According to him, this year’s Osun Osogbo festival would be low keyed, but with all traditional rites and sacrifices by the Osun devotees in Osogbo alone.
He explained that the state government had restricted the movement of non-residents of Osun to the state, saying this would help to prevent the spread of the disease.
Kwara dismisses Ebola claim
Also, yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed on Primary Health, Prof Sunday Opabola, said there was no case of Ebola in the state, saying the patient that was referred to as having the disease was a case of mismanaged malaria fever.
Speaking on a local radio programme in Ilorin, Opabola said,”We took the blood samples of the boy and his mother and sent them to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for screening. Unfortunately, we lost the boy.
“But the fortunate thing is that the results of the boy’s and mother’s tests came in yesterday night from LUTH and they were negative.
” So I am happy to tell Kwarans that up till now we don’t have any report of a suspicious case not to talk about confirmed case. I can say that the boy’s case was a mismanaged malaria disease in the first hospital”.
Recalling the incident that led to the development, he said: “The history we later got was that when they could dehydrate him intravenously in the first hospital, they gave him an intubation (putting a tube through the nose into the stomach) to feed him. When he was not responding, they removed the tube and transferred him to the paediatrician hospital in town and the first vomiting the boy had contained blood. Intubation can cause bleeding from the stomach and that is exact what happened.”