The Commissioner for Health in Abia, Okechukwu Ogah, has said that there is no outbreak of Ebola disease in the state.
Mr. Ogah said in a telephone interview on Friday that the suspected outbreak of the disease in Isialangwa South Local Government Area was mere speculation.
He said the case had not been confirmed, adding that the matter had been reported to the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, for necessary action.
“We have contacted Abuja over the matter because we do not have the scientific laboratory to carry out the test for the Ebola virus,” he said.
The commissioner said also that the suspected patient was not quarantined.
“People are freely having contacts with the woman but nobody has contracted the disease since she was brought back,” he said.
He explained that information available to him showed that she was brought back from Lagos by her husband and dumped in the village.
“The husband did not even drop her in their own place, hence the widespread speculation that she was suffering from Ebola disease,” he said.
Mr. Ogah further dismissed the speculations that the use of salt-water to bath could prevent Ebola virus attack.
He attributed the rumour to the handiwork of mischief makers, who were using the Ebola virus to deceive the people and create panic. He urged residents to disregard the rumour and adhere strictly to preventive measures identified by the Ministry of Health, including desisting from eating bush meats and bats.
Meanwhile, the rumour about the efficacy of the salt-water bath has led to an increase in the demand for salt in local markets in the area.
A visit to the Orie-Ugba Market, Umuahia, showed that salt traders are being highly patronised.
Sera Ukpabi, and one Chidinma, who trade in salt, admitted that there was a sharp increase in the demand for the item by residents.
“People buy more salt now than before,” Ms. Ukpabi said, adding that she had made more sales on Friday than before.
In a related development, Nnenna Uke, who sells bitter kola in the market, also said that there had been an increase in the demand for bitter kola.
Ms. Uke said that the development was not unconnected with the false rumour that Ebola could be tackled with bitter kola.