The Ebonyi Government on Thursday ordered closure of all public and private schools in the state to check the spread of lassa fever that broke out in the state recently.
John Eke, the Commissioner for Education, told the News Agency of Nigeria in an interview in Abakaliki, that the closure was part of proactive steps taken to contain the spread of the disease in the state.
According to him, government embarked on the measure to effectively control and contain the spread of the dreaded lassa virus which had claimed some lives including two medical doctors.
The commissioner, however, said that the lassa outbreak in the state was not alarming, but noted that the closure of schools was done to check the disease spreading into schools.
“First of all, I want to inform you that the issue of the outbreak of the lassa disease is not in alarming rate, and what we have done is to ensure that we effectively put the spread under control.
“Again, a women yesterday (Wednesday, January 17), was diagnosed positive of the virus and this patient has her children in schools.
“We believe that one of the best ways to handle the situation is to shut down our schools until we are sure that our pupils and students are safe.
“The schools will remain shut for seven school days to enable us monitor the situation and we appeal to parents, guardians and school authorities to comply with the directive,” Mr. Eke said.
Also, the National Obstetric Fistula Centre, NOFIC, Abakaliki has evacuated its patients over the outbreak of Lassa fever at the nearby Virology Centre of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, FETHA.
This is even as the State House of Assembly on Wednesday summoned contractors that built the N350 million ultra-modern virology centre to appear before it over allegations that they did not fully equip the centre after they were paid by the state government.
Both NOFIC and the Virology Centre were built by the state government and taken over by the federal government.
The institutions are both located inside the premises of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, with a wall separating the two.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how two doctors at FETHA and a nurse died in a Lassa fever outbreak in the hospital.
Another doctor is said to be in critical condition at Irua Lassa fever Specialist Hospital, Edo State, though PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify this report.
Worried by the outbreak of the disease in FETHA, the management of the National Obstetric Fistula Centre evacuated all the patients in the hospital to an undisclosed hospital.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited NOFIC, no patient was seen in the wards.
A staff of the hospital who spoke in confidence said all the patients were evacuated to another hospital.
“You know this hospital is located beside this virology centre and some of the patients including the deceased were taken to the virology centre before being evacuated to Irua Specialist Hospital where some of them died early this week.
“So, our management feel it is very imperative to evacuate all our patients out of our hospital even though the virology centre has been fumigated”, he said.
He disclosed that some of the patients evacuated from the hospital just passed through surgery.
When contacted, the spokesman of NOFIC, Rita Nwojiji, confirmed the evacuation of patients.
According to her, the evacuation is to enable the hospital take preventive measures to ensure the disease does not spread into the centre from its neighbour.
“We are starting to fumigate the place today and after that it will take about four days before we can make use of the place. By Monday we expect work to resume and normalcy to be restored,” she said.