Federal Government yesterday confirmed that two more Nigerians have contracted the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), bringing the number of cases so far in Nigeria to nine. The two new cases are among those who had primary contact with the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer.
Briefing newsmen yesterday in Lagos, Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu also disclosed that 139 people who had both primary and secondary contacts with Sawyer are now under surveillance. He added that there were also six suspects that are being clinically monitored. He said the seven positive cases were receiving treatment at a Lagos hospital and are in stable condition.
He also noted that the case fatality so far in Nigeria is between 26 and 30 percent, adding that all other ECOWAS countries stood at 65 per cent. “I am saying this to enlighten people that having Ebola does not mean you have been condemned to death, survivors have been recorded,” Onyebuchi said.
The minister advised people to disregard the claim that began on Thursday across the country that bathing with salt could serve as a cure to the virus. He described the rumour as ‘total rubbish’, ‘nonsense’ and ‘complete lie’. Contrary to curing Ebola virus, he said bathing with salt could expose the person to other health challenges, and asked Nigerians not to complicate the situation at hand.
He said government is ready to deal with the originator of such fabrication, adding, “I believe Nigeria has laws in this regard. Such perpetrators must be fished out and prosecuted through the appropriate channels.”
“Total number of cases, as at this morning stands at nine, of which eight are Nigerians and one, an American – Liberian. Out of the nine confirmed cases, seven are alive and are receiving treatment in Lagos,” he said.
On shortage of health workers to manage both confirmed and suspected cases, he said the Federal Government has offered life insurance coverage for doctors, nurses and other health workers who volunteer to render their services in combating the outbreak. He commended the medical professionals for putting their lives on the line while managing victims of the virus. He disclosed that government has approved money for the provision of additional materials needed to combat the disease.
Contributing, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, condemned in totality the rumours of taking a salted hot water bath for protection and as an antidote to the virus.
The two ministers maintained that best and most effective way to handle the situation was to maintain a regular hand washing culture, use hand sanitisers and reduce hand shaking situations with other people. According to them, Nigeria can only surmount with the cooperation of Nigerians, including the media, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan was doing everything possible to curtail further spread of the virus.
Maku urged infected people or individuals who show symptoms to make themselves available at health facilities to increase their chances of survival and not to endanger the lives of others.
“We have had situations where one or two people refused to corporate and therefore endangering the lives of others,” he said.
He called on all the state governors to embark on mass public education on the disease and to also quickly establish health facility against possible outbreak. Chukwu said there was presently no vaccine to cure the disease.