Lagosians were told yesterday not to panic over the Ebola virus that has killed a Liberian in the city.
The state government announced drastic measures to prevent the dreaded virus from spreading into the state and the country.
Last week, a Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, flew into the commercial capital city aboard Asky Airline from Monrovia, carrying the virus.
The late Sawyer detected within 24 hours and isolated for treatment after tests revealed that he was carrying the virus that has killed over 672 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The high-risk patient died within 24 hours and his remains were cremated.
The government said yesterday that 59 people who had primary and secondary contacts with the late Sawyer had been placed on surveillance.
But Lagosians were urged to remain calm because the virus is not in the city as no Nigerian had contacted it.
Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris, who spoke to reporters, said the Liberian was billed to travel to Calabar for a conference but he took ill.
All contacts with him are to be actively followed, he said, adding that 59 contacts had been identified, but the contacts in the airline – those who travelled with the Liberian —have not all been found because the airline failed to release the manifest.
The commissioner said: “The airline manifest has not been provided at the time of this report and therefore, the precise number of passenger contacts is yet to be ascertained, especially as two flights were involved (Monrovia-Lome and Lome-Lagos). There was no report of a medical incident filed.”
The airline was banned yesterday from flying into Nigeria.
Idris, who addressed the news conference in concert with the Federal Ministry of Health, said part of the measures taken after the death of the Liberian was the demobilisation of the private hospital where he was admitted and elimination of primary source of infection. He said decontamination in all affected areas had begun.
He added that the body of the victim was cremated and the ash is awaiting further directives from the Liberian Embassy.
“Adhering strictly to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, the body of the deceased patient was decontaminated, using 10% sodium hypochlorite and cremated, with the permission of the government of Liberia. A cremation urn has been prepared for dispatch to the family. The vehicle that conveyed the remains was also fully decontaminated,” Idris added.
On contacts tracing, Dr Idris said 59 were registered, consisting of 44 hospital contacts (38 healthcare workers and six laboratory staff) and 15 airport contacts, comprising three ECOWAS officials-driver, liaison and protocol officers, Nigerian Ambassador to Monrovia, two nursing staff and five Airport passenger handlers.
Of the 59, 20 have been physically screened; 50 per cent were of the type one contact and another 50 per cent had type two contacts.
The manifest of the Asky Airline Flight No KP50 that brought the victim into the country has not been provided by the airline. The precise number of passenger contacts has not been ascertained.
Idris said two flights were involved (Monrovia-Lome and Lome-Lagos), noting that there was no report of medical incident filed.
Harping on case management, infection prevention and control, Idris said an isolation ward had been designated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for case management.
“The designation of three other health facilities is underway. A total of 100 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) were procured by the National Centre Disease Control FMOH and distributed to the private hospital and the state Ministry of Health. WHO also donated 250 PPEs to the NCDC/FMOH,” Idris said.
Recognising the importance of involving the community early in the response, he said traditional and religious leaders were alerted about the disease and requested to report promptly to health care workers.
Idris said: “We can categorically state that as of today we have only one case of imported Ebola and one death. No Nigerian is infected, but all contacts are being actively followed.
“We call on all Nigerians to be calm and not panic and do hereby assure them that both the State and Federal Governments are up in arms to ensure that the virus did not escape and that no Nigerian is infected with this virus.”
The Commissioner also said a call-in team was established for the public to dial in and obtain information on the Ebola Virus Disease. Toll-free lines were obtained from a telecommunication service provider to be used for answering questions, creating awareness, and receiving notifications of any suspected case just as public awareness creation through social media, such as Twitter’s and Facebook’s accounts, was also activated.
The Special Adviser on Health, Dr Yewande Adeshina, also urged to operators of traditional health care centres to be wary of patients with fever symptoms who show signs of extreme weakness and diarrhea. They are to immediately alert health authorities about such patients.
The President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Oyewale Tomori said all the contact persons were being screened for any possible signs of the disease.
He praised the Lagos State Government and the private hospital adding that there is absolutely no need for people to panic. The golden rule, said Tomori, is to observe the personal hygiene of always washing hands with soap.
THE NATION NEWSPAPER