UPDATE: Nigeria confirms doctor infected with Ebola virus

Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu

Mr. Chukwu said that eight health workers who also had contact with Mr. Sawyer and have shown signs of fever.

The Nigerian Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Monday in Abuja confirmed that a medical doctor in Lagos has been infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

Mr. Chukwu, speaking to journalists, said that the doctor that treated Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who died of Ebola in Lagos, has tested positive to the virus.

The doctor’s name was, however, withheld by the minister for personal reasons and fear of stigmatisation.

Mr. Sawyer died on July 24 the First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende, Lagos, after he came to Nigeria from Liberia via Asky Airline. His sister was also said to have died of the disease in Liberia.

The virus manifests between two to 21 days, which is its incubation period.

Mr. Chukwu said that eight health workers, who had close contact with the late Mr. Sawyer, have now been quarantined. He said that the health workers had shown signs of fever although they tested negative to the virus, while two other’s tests results were yet to be ascertained.

The minister said that so far 70 persons, including the eight health workers, believed to have had contact with late Mr. Sawyer were placed on surveillance in centres provided by the Lagos government.

He said the technical working group in Lagos needs to be strengthened while Ebola working groups would also be established in all states in Nigeria.

“An emergency council meeting will be called this week to discuss issues on Ebola virus disease and haemorrhagic fever as all commissioners of the 36 states of the federation will be called. All secretariat and emergency operation centres will be developed and inaugurated this week,” Mr. Chukwu said.

He said the operation centres would be available to answer all questions on Ebola Virus.
The minister also made available a toll free line, 0800326524357 for inquiries and report of any suspected case of the virus.
Mr. Chukwu also inaugurated a treatment research group for Ebola Virus in Nigeria. The group will be chaired by the Director General, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research, Kanius Gamani, and the DG, Nigerian Medical Research Institute, Innocent Ujah.

The minister also debunked reports that bitter kola can be used to cure the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD.

“As the minister of health, there is no scientific proof to show that bitter kola can be used for prevention or cure of Ebola virus,” Mr. Chukwu said.

Meanwhile, Maurice Iwu, who had earlier claimed that bitter kola could be used as a preventive and curative measure, was made a member of the newly inaugurated committee.

Mr. Iwu, a professor of pharmacognosy, is Nigeria’s immediate past electoral chief.

The Minister said that efforts were being made to find a vaccine that could help in prevention of the disease and possibly its cure. He said while health personnel were carrying out screenings at the borders, a technical working group will be inaugurated soon.

He also said directives have been issued that all dead bodies from the three endemic countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia should not be brought back into Nigeria. The three countries, where more than 1200 people have been infected so far with the deadly virus, have recorded over 700 deaths due to the disease.

Ebola is said to be transmitted from fruit bats and apes to humans who hunt them for food and is further spread to other humans when they come in contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains. Later symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and bloody rashes all over the body.

There is no drug or vaccine yet to treat the virus that has an over 60 per cent fatality.


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