By Sola Ogundipe, Health Editor, Ben Agande, Caleb Ayansina, Chioma Obinna, Victoria Ojeme, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS—The Federal and Lagos State governments, yesterday, differed on new suspected cases of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in the country.
While the Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu insisted that there were no new cases of the EVD in Nigeria, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris told reporters that five new suspected cases of Ebola have been recorded in the state.
President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the release of N200 million to the Lagos State Government to assist in containment of the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, Nigerian-owned biotech company involved in the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of Nanosilver, Minerals for Life Limited, has cleared the air over the controversy surrounding the product, saying it never claimed that Nanosilver was a cure for Ebola.
At a briefing in Lagos, Idris announced that there were five new cases among which were two secondary contacts and three primary contacts with the index (first) case.
The commissioner said the suspected cases had been put at the Ebola isolation ward of the Mainland Hospital, Lagos, without any application of Nano Silver drug and that they would be monitored for the 21-day incubation period of the virus. “To date we have eight suspected cases and five of them came in yesterday. We have 12 confirmed cases and on the whole, five have died. We are currently following up 213 contacts and 62 have completed the 21-day follow-up.
‘The Ministry of Health commiserates with their families, co-workers, friends and loved ones on these irreparable losses on the line of duty.”
Making the confirmation in a press statement, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu said as at 7:00 PM today, (Wednesday), there is no other confirmed Ebola Virus Disease case in Nigeria outside the two that are currently under treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.
No new cases — FG
Chukwu said the clarification became necessary following media reports of five new cases in Lagos State. According to him, “This report should be disregarded.”
He reiterated that any doubtful information on the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria should be verified from the Office of the Minister of Health who has the sole authority to announce confirmed cases as far as disease epidemics in Nigeria are concerned.
The minister further reassured the public that any new confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease will be announced by his office promptly.
His words: “The latest death occurred Tuesday evening, and that is the death of the most senior doctor, Senior Consultant/Physician and Endocrinologist at First Consultant Hospital in Lagos, Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh.
“Regrettably she lost her life to Ebola virus. Of course she contacted the disease from the Liberian-American who exported the disease to Nigeria in the course of treating that patient.
“Indeed she had to physically restrain this infected person from escaping from the hospital when the latter attempted to do so, having been communicated that he was Ebola-positive.
“Indeed, if that index case had escaped hospital at that stage it would have spelt disaster for Nigeria as many more persons would have been very difficult to track; and could have become primary contacts.
“There is no doubt that Dr. Adadevoh was not only a dedicated, committed and competent doctor, but she showed rare courage, rare sense of duty, service and patriotism to her country.”
Chukwu also enjoined the media to be cautious in reportage of Ebola cases in order not to cause unnecessary tension in the country.
“We appeal that when you are inviting anybody who is supposed to be an expert, especially at this time of national emergency, you may do well to seek our confirmation on whether the person is indeed an expert.
“We also want to state that some of the editorials we are seeing even today in some of the national dailies, is an emotional thing quite alright, but we plead with the media to stay the course. For newspapers to say the Federal Government has been tardy in its response and has not addressed the issues at this time when the World Health Organization, the American government, the USCentre for Disease Control and the generality of Nigerians are commending government, I think it does not speak well of some of our media.
“Inciting the public against the Federal Government because we are emotionally connected to people who are today infected or had been infected of ebola virus disease will not help us as a country.
“The Government of Nigeria has done well, our health professionals even at the risk of their lives are participating in Lagos in managing this situation have done well. The doctors and nurses who work at First Consultants Hospital Lagos, we praise their courage; they have done well. The least we can do is to encourage others, some of whom intend to volunteer, to continue with the care until such a time this is brought under control.
“So all the editorials today are certainly in bad taste. We know they come from personal feelings but this is not the time for emotional outbursts. There is nothing the government has not done, no stone has been left unturned” he said.
He appealed that those who have been discharged should not be stigmatised because they don’t pose a threat to the society any longer.
How Adadevoh saved Nigerians from possible Ebola spread — Idris
The late Senior Consultant/Endocrinologist of First Consultant Medical Centre, Lagos, Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, did not only stop the late American-Liberian and index (first) Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, case Mr Patrick Sawyer from attending the ECOWAS meeting in Calabar, Cross River State, but took the initiative to promptly report his situation to the Lagos State Government.
Idris, who disclosed this in Lagos yesterday during a media update, said it was at the instance of the late medical doctor, who was a primary contact to Sawyer and substantially to her credit, that the moderate containment achieved of the deadly EVD in the country is owed.
“It was gathered that Sawyer insisted on being discharged from the hospital, apparently to attend an ECOWAS meeting in Calabar, Cross River State but Adadevoh, widely described as affectionate, insisted he stayed.
“She immediately contacted Lagos State Ministry of Health which took over the case. Had Adadevoh discharged Sawyer according to his wish, he would certainly have infected more Nigerians at the Calabar meeting, if he had managed to make it to the venue.
“He could have infected more people at the airport, on his local flight, in the hotel and at the meeting. This could have led to an unimaginable spread of the disease,” he noted.
Idris who disclosed that five more people with suspected symptoms had been recorded and taken in, described Adedevoh‘s death as unfortunate as she had contact with the Liberian victim, unaware of his status.
“Adadevoh’s prompt action saved Nigeria from a national disaster. She led the team that attended to the index case. Her doggedness and commitment to duty saw her personally reviewing the case even though the patient had earlier been seen by another doctor.
“No doubt, she and the other health workers are the heroes and heroines of the day. The Ministry of Health commiserates with their families, co-workers, friends and loved ones on these irreparable losses which was on the line of duty,” he remarked.
Expressing government’s condolences to the families of the deceased doctor, he described her as a heroine of the fight against the disease.
Robust secondary contact tracing
Idris explained that government was currently shifting from primary to secondary contacts tracing to track down more possible patients.
He said the state government, together with other partners would continue to do its best to ensure effective containment of the disease, saying that more vehicles have been procured as well as personnel.
Idris cautioned against panic but urged the public to take necessary measures against the disease.
The commissioner advised against unprotected contacts with corpses, monkeys and other primary sources of the disease.
Calling for vigilance, he explained that human-to-human transmission was only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely ill from the Ebola virus.
Idris said there is no special treatment for Ebola victims as those who had been successfully treated were treated based on the symptoms they manifested.
On why some patients died and others survived, the commissioner said chances of survival depended on the immune systems of the affected people, and the timing and quality of treatment.
“The survival of patients depend on how early the patient is able to access treatment and that is why we keep begging people not to hide at home, do not keep yourself as soon as you start developing symptoms.
“Apart from this the chances of survival also depend on the innate immune system of patients, and the efficacy of immunity is also dependent on the age.
“A 27year-old person is in better position to fight any disease than a 50 year-old and a 60 year old because of age.
“Ebola is not a death sentence, if patients come in for treatments early, they stand a higher chance of survival. I encourage the private health sector to further co-operate with the government and promptly report any suspected case. The need for basic universal precaution and barrier nursing should be uppermost. The government is also prepared to ensure that your businesses enjoy an on-going concern status.”
FG allocates N200 million to LASG
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the release of N200 million to the Lagos State Government to assist it in containing the spread of EVD.
This is coming on the heels of the donation of 30 body scanners by the US government to the Nigerian government to check body temperatures at the country’s various ports of entry.
Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu who disclosed these at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting yesterday, said government was considering technical opinions on whether or not some scheduled ceremonies like the Osun-Osogbo Festival and the national conference of the Nigerian Bar Associations would hold or not.
He said: “Mr. President has approved the release of N200 million to Lagos State as FG’s direct support for Lagos State’s efforts to fight Ebola virus.
“Mr Atedo Peterside through his Foundation donated N100,000 per bed per day to affected private hospitals. The first beneficiary is First Consultant Hospital, Lagos where the index case was managed. The hospital has 40 beds and so will receive N4 million from that foundation.
“This is to aid the hospital to continue to pay its staff who have all been asked to stay home and the hospital closed as a result of the confirmed case of Ebola virus. The hospital will have to be decontaminated. All staff in the hospital who were around during the first index case are all under survillence and so are not working,” he said.
Further, Chukwu said that “as at today, Nigeria has had a total of 12 cases of Ebola which include the index case, the Liberian American, Patrick Sawyer, 11 Nigerians who were primary contacts with the one index case.
“Of this 12, the total number of successful cases who have been discharged stands at five but the total number of deaths including the index case stands at five dead. Currently, the total number of cases in Nigeria are two, made up of one doctor and one nurse who had managed the index case and they are presently on treatment at the isolation centres.
We didn’t claim Nanosilver cures Ebola — Minerals for Life
Nigerian owned biotech company involved in the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of Nanosilver, Minerals for Life Limited has cleared the air over the controversy surrounding the product, saying it never claimed that Nanosilver was a cure for Ebola.
In a press statement issued in Lagos and signed by the Co-ordinator, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Adetunji Fadayiro, the company stated that its brand, Nanosilver is classified as a dietary supplement.
According to Fadayiro, Minerals for Life caters for numerous customers who utilise Nanosilver Solution as an immune booster in a number of health situations.
He expressed worry that their clientele have in recent days drawn their attention to a claim that Nanosilver solution which is marketed for human consumption and ingestion is a pesticide.
“Stating that it is therefore pertinent to address the information in the public domain, he said: “Nanosilver is approved by the USA Department of Agriculture and Food, with a pesticide registration. Nanosilver is also approved by the same USA Department of Agriculture and Food with Food Establishment approval. Amongst other approvals, Nanosilver is approved for purchase by the USA Government Veterans Hospital Association (both as a disinfectant and supplement). Nanosilver has well over 15 government approvals for various uses.
“Minerals for Life Ltd in keeping with its goal of preserving life, donated our Nanosilver immune booster (which currently has the status of a food supplement), to assist the patients of the current Ebola pandemic because of the history of the use of Silver Solution. Minerals for Life Ltd did not claim Nanosilver is a cure for Ebola,” he explained.
He further congratulated the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Ministry of Health for their proactive approach in fighting the Ebola disease, that has resulted in the recovery of some patients treated with antibiotics and a cocktail of immune boosters.
“Minerals for Life looks forward to the total containment of the Ebola disease and a healthy population of Nigerians,” he stated.
A relative speaks
A close relative of the late Adadevoh who alleged that her case was mismanaged, said, no attempt was made to provide her with any of the experimental drugs that were said to be available for the management the disease.
The relative, who spoke anonymously, expressed dissatisfaction over her death, saying that she would have survived had any of the experimental drugs been administered on her.
Blaming the Federal Government for failure to procure a suitable experimental drug, the relative who claimed to be one of the secondary contacts currently being monitored by government, argued that by virtue of the fact that the World Health Organisation approved that other experimental drugs be used for Ebola patients due to the magnitude of the problem, why did the Federal Government refuse to heed the recommendation? If they had used all they had at their disposal to treat her, she would have survived.”
A consultant at the First Consultants Medical Centre, described the deceased as diligent and thorough.
“She was very particular about the standard of medical services in the country. She was never ready to compromise the management of a patient. I’m not surprised that she did not discharge Sawyer, and that she alerted the state health authorities. Not many doctors would have done that,” she said.
A gallant death and big loss to the nation — Omolola
Reacting to the news of the death of Dr Stella Ameyo Adedavoh , National President, Association of General and Medical Private Practitioners, AGMPN, Dr. Anthony Omolola described her death as gallant, adding that her exit was a great loss to the medical profession and the nation at large.
Omolola said: “We are not happy losing our colleagues. Again, we are happy at the circumstances because it was in the process of saving a person she did not know was having Ebola that she picked the virus.
“It was in swift reaction to the emergency to keep the patients alive that she picked the virus which was imported into the country. But again, it was a gallant death. She will still be remembered for her efforts and that she died while carrying out a humanitarian duty.
“It is a big loss to the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA because it is very painful when you lose a senior colleague who has put in so many years of meritorious service to the profession in the country and beyond.
It is a big loss to the medical profession and to this country,” he noted.
He further urged Nigerian government to prevent such occurrence by ensuring that healthcare workers are applying the standard Universal Principle to attend to patients.
It is unfortunate— Balogun
In his response, the Chairman, Board of First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, Dr Wale Balogun who declined to speak on Ebola issues however, described her death as unfortunate.
“It is unfortunate that we lost her. What we did in an emergency meeting about three weeks ago is that reactions on Ebola since we are easily excited people that the Commissioner for Health and the Minister of Health should be communicating to the public and that is the way I want to see it.
“As an individual, I feel very unhappy about it. I have never met her but from what I have heard and read in the newspapers it is very unfortunate that we should lose such a senior consultant with such an experience. Any other communication outside this should be directed to the minister or commissioner,” he stated.
Lagos seals 3 buildings over unwholesome
In a related development as part of measures to prevent spread of EVD, and ensure a cleaner and sustainable environment in Lagos, the Lagos government, through the Ministry of the Environment has sealed three houses on Lagos Island.
The three buildings, located on Nos. 42, 48 and 50, Vincent Street, Lagos Island were discovered during monitoring exercise of the environment by officials.
In a statement, the state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello said occupants of the buildings had earlier been served abatement notices for discharging untreated human faeces directly into public places leading to offensive foul odour capable of instigating outbreak of epidemic.
It was also observed during the monitoring exercise that, all the tertiary adjoining drains were completely filthy and silted with solid/fecal waste.
“Upon the inability of the occupants to remediate the observed nuisances, the Enforcement Department of the Ministry of the Environment led by Dr. A. Afolabi sealed up the premises upon receipt of an order which granted the closure,” Bello stated.
It could be recalled that, at the last train-the -trainers workshop organized by the Ministry of the Environment to train Environmental Heath officers and Scientific Officer across the state to educate members of the public on preventive measures to reduce the spread of the Ebola disease, the commissioner warned residents to shun open urination and defecation as well as engage in best hygienic practices in order to reduce the spread.