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Ebola: 1 out of 15 airport contacts down with Ebola Virus Disease

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No one is sick —LASG
NIMR seeks support for upgrade of laboratory

By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale & Bosede Oyelohunnu

THE Lagos state government has however allayed fears that some of the contacts may have been manifesting symptoms of the virus. Already, medical personnel from Canada are already in Nigeria working with their counterparts at the hospital where the victims died on how to control the spread of the virus. Hotlines have also been provided to enable members of the public pass information on any suspected case of the virus.

Victim of the deadly Ebola virus disease, Patrick Sawyer wth wife, Decontee
Victim of the deadly Ebola virus disease, Patrick Sawyer wth wife, Decontee

INDICATIONS emerged,   yesterday, that one of the 15 airport contacts that assisted the late Liberian, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, that died of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, may have contracted the deadly virus.
Unconfirmed reports revealed that already the contact has begun to manifest symptoms of Ebola Virus.

According to a member of the Joint Federal and State Team on Ebola outbreak who preferred anonymity; one of the persons who accompanied late Patrick Sawyer is already showing signs of Ebola.

The reliable source confirmed receipt of a short message service, SMS, text that the person who assisted late Patrick Sawyer to move out of the plane is presenting symptoms, identifiable with EVD. “In fact, I just got a text that the person who helped Sawyer, the Liberian, to get out of the air plane is down with a suspected case of Ebola. You can see we have to be very careful. I cannot say specifically whether he or she is a Nigerian or in Nigeria right now. He is still being monitored as we speak,” he said.

He added that the latest victim was among those who were being quarantined for having first contact with the victim.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government in a swift reaction through a text message said that no one of the 59 contacts is sick for now. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina who responded through a text message said: “It is not true. We are doing routine surveillance, no one is sick.”

It would be recalled that the Lagos State Government, Monday, disclosed that not less than 59 persons that had contact with the victim of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, Patrick Sawyer, who died in Lagos last Thursday have been identified and that the Joint Federal and State Team in collaboration with other health organisations on prevention of Ebola outbreak in Lagos, have begun close monitoring of the 59 persons.

Also, the Ogun State Governor; Senator Ibikunle Amosun has said that all health and other relevant officials in the border areas of the state have been put on red alert to forestall the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

He also appealed to doctors to end the lingering nationwide strike embarked upon by members of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, barely a month ago. Meanwhile, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute Medical Research, NIMR, Professor Innocent Ujah, has appealed to the federal and states governments as well as good spirited individuals to support the institute in its quest to upgrade its Human Virology Laboratory, HVL, to appropriately conduct research into the disease.

Ujah who spoke during a symposium to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day in Lagos said apart from conducting new research into the disease it would also help the institute to generate new information about the deadly virus. “We must invest in health research if Nigeria must make any headway in quality healthcare,” he stressed.

On steps taken by the institute since the outbreak of Ebola, Ujah said “ever before the first reported case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria last week, our institute had instituted proactive measures by repositioning the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team and Research Group for national response, in case there is an outbreak in Nigeria.

Proactive strategy
Our proactive strategy, in my opinion, has placed us in an advantaged position for national response. “Right now, some of our staff are on training with the National Response Team at the Mainland Hospital on the prevention and control of the disease, using internationally designed protocol. We are intensifying research on Ebola in Nigeria.”

Ujah allayed fears that EVD was not an African issue, stressing that because majority of the victims were Africans did not make it an African disease.
He, however, noted that “most animals in Europe are under surveillance and are well taking care off. The reason why we are victims is because these animals are also in Africa and not under surveillance. But that does not make it African issue.”

On how possible a person can be screened on Ebola, he said: “It is difficult to hide the symptoms. The ports authority needs to be at alert. Travellers must consult their doctor at the port before departure.  And no matter the measures put in place at the port, some people will still slip through.”

Speaking on way out of the problems, he advised that hygiene was the solution and could save anyone from contracting the disease. “People should embrace hand washing. The virus is very small but with hygienic life style one can still stay healthy,” he added.

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