Below is the full text of Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s address to the people of Ondo state over the outbreak of a strange illness that has killed no fewer than 17 people in two communities in the state.
“My dear good people of Ondo State
“We have witnessed in the last few days a major health challenge. A yet to be named ailment whose causative agents, diagnosis and cure are also yet to be determined struck in locations in Irele Local Government Area of our State, killing 17 people and stoking panic and fear.
“I am, like you, saddened by this losses and the attendant fear of what looks like an epidemic. I can only bring words of consolation to the families of the deceased and words of comfort and assurances to the good people of our dear State. Our prayer at this hour is that God grants rest to the dead and fortitude to the living.
“Fellow citizens, we have as a government taken all necessary and available actions to respond to this health crisis.
“Amidst conflicting and confusing information, the investigating team of experts sent by government to the area gathered that all the casualties died within hours of affliction. In all, 17 deaths have been confirmed in Ayadi Community and Ode Irele township and all the deaths were preceded by symptoms of sudden blurred vision, headache and loss of consciousness.
“It must be said that the team was despatched to the communities affected and the General Hospital as well as other health facilities, to gather needed information about the nature, scope and circumstances of the outbreak.
“Key informants interview, hospital record search and patient interview were used to obtain information.
“I must state that the symptoms in this situation are not peculiar to any known epidemic and so have remained largely confounding. Specifically, it must be stressed, the symptoms observed in the two communities of Ayadi and Ode Irele bear no resemblance to those associated with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
“Our investigations thus far have been in conjunction with our development partner, the World Health Organisation, WHO, and report sent to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). As we speak, there are no new cases reported in the last 48 hours and none presently in the hospital.
“We have deployed trained volunteers for active surveillance and case management should the need arise. Also, advocacy and sensitisation efforts are ongoing in print and on electronic media. I urge you all to report any suspected case to the nearest health facility or call the telephone numbers being announced on our radio and television stations. I am hopeful that with the combined efforts of all, final and definite solution will just be a matter of days.
“In the meantime, Cerebro Spinal fluid, Blood and Urine specimens have been taken for examination. These specimens have been cultured and examined and the preliminary results show that no known viral infection has been detected. We have further ordered toxicology test.
“We have commenced active surveillance through the Local Government Area Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer.
“We await final laboratory results to be able to fully apprehend and finally surmount this challenge. We use this opportunity to appeal to citizens and residents to report any suspicious case with blurring of vision, incoherence or related symptoms to the nearest health facilities.
“Dear compatriots, these times require vigilance, love and unity of purpose. These times require care and circumspection. Above all, these times demand strict adherence to hygienic ways of life. Such little things as regular washing of hands, covering of mouths while sneezing can go a long way to ensure healthy living.
“I have directed that the information management team set up for the purpose of gathering facts and responding to questions be available all day and brief the public twice everyday until the disease is contained.
“Thank you and God bless you all.”