Ebola cases now 15 in Nigeria — Health Minister

Ebola Virus

Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu has said the number of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country has risen from 13 to 15.

Mr. Chukwu, a professor, made the disclosure Thursday in Abuja while presenting an update on the disease to journalists.

“The total number of EVD cases so far reported in Nigeria stands at 15; the total number of cases treated at our isolation ward stands at 13; the total number of those discharged is seven; the total number of deaths from those treated in Lagos is five and the total number currently under treatment is one and the person is stable and improving clinically,” he said.

According to him, the additional two cases were not treated at the isolation ward in Lagos.

One of them is a primary contact of the index case, Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American, who brought the virus to Nigeria.

He said even though the extra case does not presently have EVD, further laboratory tests indicated he had suffered EVD.

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He stated that the primary contact of Mr. Sawyer evaded the surveillance team in the last week of July and traveled out of Lagos to Port Harcourt where he consulted a doctor and was apparently treated for some symptoms of the virus.

After four days, following a manhunt for him, he returned to Lagos by which time he was found to be without symptoms.

“This case would have been of no further interest since he had completed the 21 days of surveillance without any other issue, but for the fact that the doctor who treated him died last Friday, 22nd August, 2014.

“Following the report of this death by the doctor’s widow the next day, the case has been thoroughly investigated and laboratory analysis showed that this doctor died from EVD.

“As a result, several contacts have now been traced, registered and placed under surveillance. However, because the widow is now symptomatic, she has been quarantined pending the outcome of laboratory tests on her,” the minister said.

He however noted that the Incident Management Committee has already deployed a very strong team to Port Harcourt to work with the health authorities of Rivers State.

He assured that just like the situation has effectively been managed in Lagos and Enugu, the situation in Port Harcourt will also similarly be effectively handled and that the ministry of health had begun to do so.

The total number of deaths from Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria is, therefore, now six; the index case Mr. Sawyer, the four primary contacts that died in the isolation ward in Lagos, and a doctor that died in Port Harcourt, whose blood sample tested positive after death.

Also, 70 persons have been placed under surveillance in Port Harcourt.

“I want to charge the residents of Port Harcourt not to panic over this situation as the experience we have gathered from Lagos and Enugu respectively indicate that there is no cause for alarm when you have the government fully in control of the situation,” Mr. Chukwu said. “Once again we appeal to all contacts under surveillance to abide by the advice given to them by the Incident Management Committee.”

“With regard to Enugu, all secondary contacts will be followed up till tomorrow when they are all expected to be discharged from our surveillance,” the minister added.

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