The Ebola outbreak in Rivers State, which has led to the death of a Port-Harcourt-based medical doctor, Dr. Iyke Enemuo, and over 100 residents being monitored, has sparked calls for sanctions against those who evade Ebola surveillance.
The Rivers State Commissioner For Health, Dr. Samson Parker, said the deceased had treated Olu-Koye, a Nigerian diplomat with the Economic Community of West African States, secretly in a hotel in Port-Harcourt, even when he knew that the diplomat had had primary contact with the late Liberian-American diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, who died of the deadly Ebola virus.
Although he was being monitored by health authorities in Lagos, Olu-Koye managed to evade surveillance and boarded a plane to Port-Harcourt, to seek treatment, thereby causing panic and raising fears of an outbreak of the virus in the oil-rich city.
Reacting to the development online on Monday, many Nigerians called on the Federal Government to sanction the diplomat who evaded monitoring. According to them, his action should be treated as a ‘criminal act” as it has led to the ‘murder’ of the late doctor.
An online commentator, Chukwu Egbekwu, said Olu-Koye had committed the same offence as Sawyer, who knew he was infected with the virus yet defied surveillance to travel to Nigeria, putting the nation at risk of contracting the disease.
“This guy’s actions ( Olu-Koye) are not different from the Liberians who looted an Ebola centre. He is like Sawyer. To me, he is a criminal. He has committed murder. The blood of the doctor is on him. Both of them have proved the fact there are many educated criminals in our midst.”
Another commentator, Mr. Kayode Soyemi, said Olu-Koye made a ‘reckless decision’, an offence that should be punishable in the law court and treated as a matter that compromises national interest and safety.
Soyemi posted, “An adult of his standing, who deliberately acted so recklessly and irresponsibly, does not deserve to be allowed to exist within the society. He should be charged for culpable homicide. Maybe it’s about time we had a law that will sentence an Ebola carrier, who intentionally spreads the disease, to death or life imprisonment.
“We couldn’t do anything about Sawyer, but this man must be made to face his actions. Olu-Koye the diplomat should be sacked for this ignoble role he has played. In developed countries, having survived the virus, he would most likely be tried and jailed for bringing death knowingly to others. Status be damned!
While some respondents demanded Olu-Koye’s head, others blamed the late doctor for treating the diplomat, though he knew that the diplomat had had contact with Saywer.
Angered by Enemuo’s action, they said his poor judgment had almost marred the heroic efforts of the late senior doctor with First Consultant, Dr. Stella Adadevoh, who has been praised by all for her role in containing Sawyer, when he was brought to the private hospital.
A facebook post by Tayo Omorinola stated that the late doctor had acted unprofessionally and invariably had put his wife, who has been confirmed to be infected with the Ebola virus, many patients, his colleagues at the two hospitals where he was treated and the whole state in danger.
The post reads,” I am pained. I think the doctor who accepted to treat his friend should take the blame, knowing the seriousness of the case. As a professional, he should have reported the case to Lagos. Now he has put his wife and child, as well as other Nigerians, on danger list, while the friend survived. Millions of Nigerians are now scared.” In another post on Facebook, Anyejuo Ibe said doctors must recognise their part in containing the disease, while those who commit similar offence as Emenuo must be sanctioned in the future and their licences revoked by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
“Did he think he was a super hero? His crime was greater than that of the criminal diplomat, Olu-Koye. He should have immediately quarantined the diplomat and called the attention of the appropriate health authorities to the case. I hope that other criminals in doctors’ clothing are learning from these experiences. Why can’t they all be like Dr Stella Adadevoh? Just how much money could one patient have paid him to warrant risking his life with this virulent virus. The MDCN should talk to its doctors now,” he said.
They, however, called on the Federal and the Rivers State governments to deploy all resources at their disposal towards containing the viral disease, as failure to do may put Nigeria on the list of countries stricken with the disease.