Ten persons have tested positive to Ebola in Nigeria.
As part of continued measures to stem the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, the Federal Government has said by next month, nine Testing Centres would be established across the nation, for the diagnosis of the virus .
It disclosed that currently it has four testing centres across the country. The centres are situated in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Center for Disease Control in Asokoro, Abuja, University College Hospital, Ibadan, and the Redeemers University Laboratory Kilometer 35 Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Briefing journalists after the meeting between the governors of the 36 states, alongside their commissioners for health, and President Goodluck Jonathan, the Minster of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said there are also plans to send mobile laboratories to Enugu and Plateau states because of the possibility that some residents of the state might have been exposed to the virus.
Mr. Chukwu, who briefed alongside the governors of Lagos and Enugu, World Heatlh Organisation Country representative, Rui Vaz, the Minister of Information, and the DG National Center for Disease Control, Abdulsalam Nasidi, disclosed that most Nigerians in diaspora are in touch with the federal government with suggestions to assist in making available the experimental drugs on Ebola.
He further noted that so far Nigeria has 10 confirmed cases including Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who imported the disease into Nigeria and those who had contact with the index case.
Out of the 10 cases, three have been confirmed dead: the late Patrick Sawyer, the nurse who attended to him, and the protocol officer from ECOWAS commission that was detailed to welcome delegates to the conference in Calabar.
“Seven persons of the 10 confirmed cases are alive and are showing progress with treatment,” he said.
The minister further noted that 177 persons are under surveillance. He said at the end of the 21 days incubation period, which is due in a few days, those with no symptoms will no longer be under surveillance.
Mr. Chukwu added that there are currently 21 secondary contact cases in Enugu under surveillance and that a defiant nurse and her husband are also under observation in Lagos.
The nurse, one of those who contacted the virus while treating Mr. Sawyer, had travelled to Enugu while she was under observation. Twenty-one people who had contact with her in Enugu have since been placed under observation in the state.
Mr. Chukwu also said the meeting discussed issues of effective communication and the need to provide isolation centres and laboratories for experiment across the country, adding that government’s decision to temporarily ban the repatriation of corpses from abroad will be fully enforced. He, however, explained that waivers will be granted after proper investigation have been carried out.
According to him, two waivers have already been granted to corpses of Nigerians from Kenya and India, who died of diabetes and cancer respectively .
“Two cases were reported in Abuja but they have been cleared of not having the virus. The one in Anambra concerning a corpse has been cleared. That of Abia, which was a case of reaction to a drug (Steven Johnson) has been cleared. So also is the corpse in Imo brought from Liberia, it’s been cleared of the cause not being Ebola,” he said.
The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, also made a case for transparent disclosure of infected persons.
He also noted that there was a need to provide advanced and quality medical equipment for health workers.
“This is not the time to make fast naira. Next week will be defining for us, to know what cases have multiplied. This is not something you keep in religious house to pray. Infected persons are not patients you can move by taxis, if they need prayers now it can be done electronically. We are now 99 per cent following the cases, we need to have a 100 per cent because if we have one infected person, it is a global risk not just Nigeria.
“We have to drop our traditional behaviours like shaking of hands and nobody should be offended. You have to stop defecating and urinating in public, particularly at this time of our challenges”.
The Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, said, “from the reports of the meeting, it is clear Nigeria has the capacity to fight ebola but there is need for standardised practice combating it”.
The WHO Representative in Nigeria, Rui Vaz, commended President Jonathan for calling the meeting of governors and commissioners of health to identify gaps in fighting the disease.
Mr. Vaz insisted that the epidemic was controllable stating that “We need to have a very strong collaboration mechanism. The declaration that Ebola is a national emergency is the first step, the national treatment centers across the states is also key. We should avoid myths like stigmatisation, burial rights and so on. We need to be transparent at all times hence the role of the states, local governments is critical”.
In his statement, Mr. Nasidi said in the next few days, the NCDC. will work on the directive of the federal government to ensure capacities of centers around the country.
The Information Minister, Mr. Maku, noted that the special meeting, called by the president, discussed the various efforts both at federal and states levels to combat the Ebola virus.
“We rose from this meeting with the confidence that we will defeat this virus in line with the leadership being given by the President and state governors and professional health workers,” he said.