As Nigerians continued to mourn Dr. Stella Adadevoh on Wednesday, another sad news broke on Wednesday that five fresh suspected cases of Ebola Virus Disease had been reported in Lagos State.
The state Commsioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who announced this shortly after the Federal Government gave an indication that it might immortalise Adadevoh, said another Liberian was among the new suspected cases.
Adadevoh, the first confirmed Nigerian to be diagnosed with the EVD, died on Tuesday evening.
She contracted the disease while treating the index case, Mr, Patrick Sawyer, at the First Consultants Medical Centre, Lagos where she served as the Lead Consultant.
Before her death, Adadevoh was one of the three patients that were left at the Lagos isolation centre as of Monday.
Idris, who addressed journalists in Alausa, Ikeja, said before the five fresh cases were brought in, the Lagos isolation centre had two suspected Ebola patients.
He was however quick to explain that the Liberian, who was one of the five new cases, was allowed to go after getting a clean bill.
He said, “The fresh suspected cases have increased the number of those in isolation wards from two to six.
“Till date, we have recorded eight suspected cases, five of which were brought in yesterday (Tuesday). We have 12 confirmed cases on the whole out of which five have died and five have been discharged.
“We are currently following up on 213 contacts. Sixty two have completed the 21-day follow-up.”
The commissioner described Adadevoh and other health workers at the FCMC as heroes.
He said, “Yesterday (Tuesday), we recorded the death of the Senior Consultant/Endocrinologist of First Consultant, Dr. Adadevoh.
“She, it was, who took the initiative to intimate the ministry concerning the index case and subsequently to her credit, the moderate containment achieved.”
Idris said the state Ministry of Health was continuing with contact tracing which has now shifted from primary to secondary.
He added, “This is call for vigilance as human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from Ebola virus through body fluids such as blood, urine, stool, saliva, breast milk, semen and vomitus.
“Burial ceremonies where mourners, including family members, have direct contact with the corpse have also played a role in the spread. Direct contact with dead bodies should be minimised at this period.”
He insisted that the state was still not convinced that, a controversial trial drug, Nano Silver, could cure the virus.
FG may immortalise Adadevoh
In Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the Federal Government was considering a way of immortalising Adadevoh for her bravery and sense of patriotism.
He briefed State House correspondents on the highlights of the update on the virus which he presented at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Jonathan.
Chukwu said but for the efforts of Adadevoh, Sawyer would have escaped from the FCMC and caused a disaster for the country.
He said, “Indeed, she had to physically restrain this infected person from escaping from the hospital when the latter attempted to do so having been communicated that he was ebola positive.
“Indeed, if that index case had escaped from the hospital at that stage, it would have spelt disaster for Nigeria. As many more persons (many of whom) would have been very difficult to track, could have become primary contacts.
“There is no doubt that Dr. Adadevoh was not only a dedicated, committed and competent doctor, she showed rare courage, sense of duty, service and patriotism to her country.”
Jonathan Okays N200m for LASG
The minister also announced that Jonathan had approved the immediate release of N200m to the Lagos State Government as Federal Government’s direct support in the efforts aimed at containing the spread of the EVD.
He also said he had written to a Canadian firm to see whether it could extend another trial drug, TKM Ebola, to Nigeria.
Chukwu was joined at the press conference by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; Minister of State, Power, Muhammed Wakil; Minister of State, Health, Khaliru Alhassan; and the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Emeka Eze.
The minister said any drug received would be made to pass through the nation’s Health Ethics Committee before it could be administered on any patient.
He said, “Presently, we have not stopped requesting for drug, I have requested from a company in Canada and a lot of Nigerians including the High Commissioner in Nigeria to Canada are making that request to see whether the other drug being manufactured in Canada called TKM Ebola would also be extended to Nigeria.
“It is an experimental drug. For whatever drug and if the patient gives us the consent, I want to stress this point that Nigeria as an organised country, the drug will have to pass through our Health Ethics Committee to approve.
“The minister can decide to deploy it but that is not the way to go, we have to do the correct thing and deal with that committee.
“Even ZMapp has now become Case One Clinical Trial; it has not been subjected to clinical trial. That they are using it to treat patients in US and Liberia is part of the clinical trial.
“Even at that, nothing is yet clear even though it is a fact that two medical doctors are getting better. In Nigeria, the five patients who were treated and got discharged were never given ZMapp. It tells you something. Let’s cooperate and work together, we will surely get there.”
He added that Nigeria currently had only two established cases of the virus made up of a doctor and a nurse who came into contact with Sawyer.
The minister said all those under surveillance were secondary contacts who did not have symptoms of the virus yet.
Chukwu said that the incubation period for that category of people is 42 days from the day the index case was reported.
He said the rumoured cases in Kaduna and Kwara states had tested negative.
The minister added, “As of today (Wednesday), Nigeria has had a total number of 12 cases of Ebola which include the index case and 11 Nigerians who were primary contacts with the one index case.
“Of this 12, the the total number of successful cases who have been discharged stands at five but the total number of deaths including the index case stands at five.
“Currently, the total number of established Ebola cases in Nigeria are two, made up of one doctor and one nurse who had managed the index case and they are presently on treatment at the isolation centre.
“The latest death occurred Tuesday evening and that is the death of the most senior doctor, senior consultant/physician/endrocologist at First Consultants Hospital Lagos, Dr. Adadevoh.”
He explained that the five persons discharged after being certified to be Ebola-free no longer constituted danger to the public and hence should not be stigmatised.
Chukwu also said that the Federal Government had received a letter from the Osun State Government asking that it be allowed to host the annual Osun Osogbo Festival.
He said the government was still studying the request technically and would make a pronouncement on it soon.
He also said the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, had already ordered the indefinite postponement of the National Festival of Arts earlier scheduled for September in Ebonyi State.
He added that consultation was also ongoing between the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Bar Association on the planned NBA general conference.
Chukwu said the United States will this week donate 30 body scanners to the Federal Government as its contribution to fighting the virus.
He also said that the equipment which would be used to measure body temperature would be deployed in the nation’s borders.
Chukwu disclosed that a foundation belonging to Mr. Atedo Peterside had offered to assist all private hospitals where cases of the virus had been established to the tune of N100,000 per bed.
He said since the FCMC where the index case was reported had 40 beds, it would get N4m from the foundation.
He said the support become necessary because the affected hospitals, even after their decontamination, could not open for business immediately.
The minister said the Federal Government was also working out ways of assisting the affected hospitals.
He added that theTony Elumelu Foundation had pledged N50m to the cause while the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited had donated an ambulance.
He said the six months timeframe to conquer the virus as stated by the World Health Organisation was not applicable to Nigeria, expressing the hope that the country would soon eradicate Ebola.
Chukwu denied insinuations that the Federal Government sacked resident doctors, saying it was a matter of interpretation.
He said since the doctors had not been working for about two months, it would be wrong to say that they were sacked.
He likened their case to a situation in aviation that airlines describe as “no show.”
Chukwu however promised that the situation would soon be re-appraised so that residency programme could resume.
He said, “They (resident doctors) were not sacked; it is a matter of interpretation. For example, if someone while still working actively dies or whether that person resigned or was dismissed or retired or had his appointment terminated, they all mean different things in the public service.
“But the end point is that the person is no longer working. I want us to put things in proper perspective. Government did not sack anybody. It is true that they themselves have not been working for almost two months, except those in private hospitals.
“Resident doctors in both federal and state hospitals have not been working for almost two months now and they have not participated in the control of this EVD; they have not played any role.
“So even if government had not taken any decision, they are not there, they are not working and I don’t know why suddenly the media starts taking interest in them. They are not part of this success story.
“What happened is like in the aviation industry where when you buy a ticket and you fail to show up they say ‘no show’ and they even penalise you. So there is ‘no show’ of the resident doctors and even government is still paying them.
“People who are unemployed even some doctors will be asking government a question, is it because we did not have an appointment letter? What is the difference, you are paying people who are not working, we too are not working, why are you not paying us?
“Sometimes we need to think deeply about what we do to ourselves. Government says why we can’t use this period to appraise properly the residency programme and come up with something that can help the country?’’
Chukwu also said in a tweet on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the Minister of Health, Dan Nwomeh, that there was no new confirmed case of Ebola in the country.
In an email, Nwomeh referred one of our correspondents to twitter @DanNwomeh, where he explained that Chukwu said that there were needs for “updates and clarifications of (mis)information on the fight against EVD in Nigeria.
The tweet read,“Meanwhile as of today(Wednesday), the status remains the same. Disregard all rumours of new cases please.
“This clarification follows reports of few new cases in Lagos State. This should be disregarded please.
“The Minister of Health reiterates that he has the sole authority to announce confirmed cases of disease epidemics in Nigeria. The minister reassures Nigerians that any new confirmed case of EVD in Nigeria will be announced by his office promptly.
“Any doubtful information on the outbreak of EVD should be verified from the office of the Minister of Health.
“Minister of Health restates that at present, today, now, Nigeria has only two confirmed cases of EVD.”
He also stated that there was no evidence that discharged patients could transmit the disease, adding that a Liberian whose name he did not mention was treated for malaria “having tested negative for EVD.”
UN Ebola coordinator to visit Nigeria, others
Meanwhile, a public health expert coordinating the United Nations fight against Ebola, David Nabarro, has said he would be visiting West Africa to determine the strategies that the global body can deploy to support people, communities and governments affected by the disease.
Nabarro, at news conference, said he would have “intensive interactions” with the World Bank, experts from the U S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and others before flying to Dakar, Senegal.
He said he would from there travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.