Ebola: Health Minister Says No More Contacts Under Surveillance

Onyebuchi Chukwu on Ebola Virus.Nigeria no longer has any Ebola contacts under surveillance, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said on Wednesday.

Professor Chukwu told a gathering at the on-going 69th UN General Assembly in New York that all contacts had completed 21 days of observation and had been discharged.

Those discharged include the remaining 25 Ebola contacts located in Port Harcourt area, he said.

As it stands, the total number of confirmed Ebola Virus Disease cases recorded in Nigeria remains 19, with 12 survivors and seven deaths.

The virus was brought into Nigeria in July by a Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, who died on July 25 at a hospital in Lagos.

His death triggered surveillance and isolation of primary contacts in Lagos to contain the spread of the virus.

Six more deaths were, however, recorded both in Lagos and Port Harcourt, with the Port Harcourt cases resulting after a contact under surveillance left Lagos for Port Harcourt without authorisation.

The World Health Organization has commended Nigeria’s effort in containing the virus in a city like Lagos with over 20 million population.

Senate Passes Public Health Bill

Senator David Mark, Senate President.The Senate in Nigeria has passed a bill to establish a public health system to guarantee quarantine, isolation and emergency health procedures.

The decision of Senate to pass the bill into law on Tuesday maybe connected with the onslaught of the Ebola Virus Disease in some West African countries, but experts say it has been brought under control in Nigeria.

It is a bill that seeks the development of a comprehensive plan to provide for a co-ordinated and appropriate response in the event of public health emergency.

It will also enhance the early detection of a health emergency and allow the immediate investigation of such emergency by gaining access to individual’s health information under specified circumstances.

The act also seeks to grant federal and state officials the authority to use an appropriate property as necessary for the case, treatment, vaccination and housing of patients and to destroy contaminated facilities or materials.

Speaking at the Tuesday plenary, the deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said that it was necessary to enact laws to deal challenges thrown up by the Ebola Virus Disease that claimed seven lives in Nigeria between July and August.

Ebola Could Strike 20,000 In Six Weeks And “Rumble On For Years” – Study

Ebola Health Workers.Researchers have said that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect 20,000 people as soon as early November unless rigorous infection control measures are implemented, and might “rumble on” for years in a holding pattern.

In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College said that infections would continue climbing exponentially unless patients are isolated, contacts traced and communities enlisted.

The WHO, in an initial roadmap issued on August 28, predicted that the virus could strike 20,000 people within the next nine months. The current death toll is at least 2,811 out of 5,864 cases, the U.N. agency says.

The latest study, marking six months from March 23, when the WHO says it was informed of the Ebola outbreak in southeastern Guinea, reflects projections based on the data from a third wave of the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and worst-hit Liberia.

“With exponential growth, you’ll see that the case numbers per week go up so that by the second of November, over these three countries our best estimate is over 20,000 cases, confirmed and suspected cases,” the WHO director of strategy, and co-author of article, Dr. Christopher Dye, told a briefing.

Nearly 10,000 of those would be in Liberia, 5,000 in Sierra Leone and nearly 6,000 in Guinea, he said. But those numbers would only come about with no enhanced infection control.

“Everyone is certainly working very hard to make sure this is a not the reality that we will be seeing,” Dye said. “I will be surprised if we hit 20,000 by then,” he later added.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that under a $1 billion plan, he would create a special mission to combat the disease and deployed staff to the region.

“If control is completely successful in the way that we know it can be, then Ebola will disappear from the human population of West Africa and probably return to its animal reservoir,” Dye said, noting that fruit bats were probably the reservoir.

But if control efforts are only partly successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become “a permanent feature of life in West Africa”, Dye said.Ebola

“The alternative possibility that we’re talking about is that the epidemic simply rumbles on as it has for the last few months for the next few years, on the order of years, rather than months.

“Under those circumstances, the fear is that Ebola will be more or less a permanent feature of the human population. Of course it could be extinguished later on.”

“In the three hardest-hit countries there was a “mixed pattern”, Dye said.

“We see for example in the border areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, some areas where there has been no increase in cases for some weeks now. That’s true in Sierra Leone, it’s true in Lofa in northern Liberia, and it’s true in one of the provinces of Guinea.

“So the question that arises is whether we’re actually seeing the beginning of a stationary pattern in this epidemic.

“In two badly affected districts of Sierra Leone, Kenema and Kailahun, close to border areas with Guinea and Liberia, there has been a stationary pattern, he said.

“What we’ve seen in the past weeks there, maybe eight, nine, 10 weeks now, is a pattern of incidence, numbers of cases per week, which has not significantly changed.

“And indeed there are signs that it’s going down. And I say that cautiously, because we’re prepared to be surprised again. That is what I mean by stationary pattern. A steady incidence week on week.”

There are other reassuring signs about the efficacy of infection control measures, he said, but whether the disease’s spread was stabilising would become clear in the next few weeks.

No new cases have been recorded in either Nigeria or Senegal in the last three weeks, corresponding to the 21-day incubation period for developing the virulent virus, whose symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“It is reassuring in many ways that a disease like Ebola can enter a city of 20 million, namely Lagos, and we are able to stop transmission, or rather the people of Nigeria are able to stop transmission,” Dye said.

But the Liberian capital Monrovia, where the disease has recently spread fastest, was “uncharted territory”, he said.

“Quite honestly if you ask ‘can we stamp Ebola out of Liberia?’ I’m not sure. In principle we know how to do it, but can we do it on the ground? It remains to be seen.”

 

 

Sierra Leone Records 130 New Ebola Cases During 3-day Lockdown

Ebola virus diseaseThe head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre, Stephen Gaojia, said on Monday that Sierra Leone recorded 130 new cases of the Ebola virus during a three-day lockdown and it is waiting for test results on a further 39 suspected cases.

The  country had ordered its six million citizens to stay indoors until Sunday night in the most extreme strategy employed by a West African nation since the start of an epidemic that has infected 5,762 people since March and killed 2,793 of those.

“The exercise has been largely successful … The outreach was just overwhelming. There was massive awareness of the disease,” Gaojia said, noting that authorities reached more than 80 per cent of the households they had intended to target.

Sierra Leone now needs to focus on treatment and case management and it urgently needs treatment centres in all its 14 districts as well as “foot soldiers” in clinics and hospitals, he said.

“We need clinicians, epidemiologists, lab technicians, infection-control practitioners and nurses,” he said.

The hemorrhagic fever, which has struck mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is the worst since Ebola was identified in 1976 in the forests of central Africa. At least 562 have died in Sierra Leone.

The lockdown was intended to allow 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers to visit every household. Some argued it might have a negative impact on Sierra Leone’s poor.

Ebola: Fashola Visits As First Consultants Hospital Reopens

fashola_visits_First_consultants_HospThe Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Friday, visited the First Consultants Hospital Obalende in Lagos, which has been certified ready for operation after the decontamination done for its treatment of the index Ebola patient, the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer.

Governor Fashola, briefing newsmen after the tour of the facility, said that his visit to the hospital was in order to identify with the staff on the way forward, adding that since the Ebola Virus Disease had been dealt with professionally, the way forward was to get on with life.

“It was also a doctor who just refused to give up on them, Dr. Davis, and this is the way it must be. Whether you are a journalist, a soldier, a police officer or a footballer, just do what you do with dedication and all will be well”, he said.

The Governor said the first stage of the containment process was to save lives while the second stage was to help affected businesses get up and run again.

He reiterated the need for members of the public to put the issue of EVD behind and get on with their lives.

“We (Nigerians) must not live in fear of what we do not know. We have dealt decisively, comfortably and professionally with what we know. Anything that comes out from the woodworks then we must confront it again and deal with it and resolve it,” he said.

Governor Fashola also told the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri, to articulate the equipment losses suffered by the hospital as a result of the decontamination after the death of the index case, with the view to assisting the hospital replace such equipment.

He, again, paid glowing tribute to the hospital staff, particularly the management, for the role they played in bringing the index case to the knowledge of the State Government instead of taking the easy way out. He added that if they had not insisted on detaining the patient, the story would have been devastatingly different.

Addressing the public, Governor Fashola said that everything relating to the issue of Ebola has been settled, adding that what remains was for the people to ensure that they take cleanliness very seriously by washing their hands regularly with soap and water.

The CMD, Dr. Ohiaeri, while regretting both the human and material losses suffered by the hospital as a result of the EVD infection from the index case, praised the Governor and the State Ministry of Health for their prompt response to the information on the index case, adding that although the Governor was on lesser hajj at the period, the Ministry acted promptly and professionally.

First Consultants Hospital was where the index case of EVD in the country, Mr. Patrick Sawyer from Liberia, was received and attended to on Sunday, July 20, 2014, after he was rushed from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport where he collapsed on arrival from his country.

He died at the hospital on Friday, July 25. As a result, the hospital was shut down and decontaminated later with some of the equipment destroyed as part of the decontamination process.

With the Governor during the visit were some members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris and his Special Duties counterpart, Dr. Wale Ahmed as well as other top government officials.

France To Set Up Military Hospital To Fight Ebola In West Africa

Ebola
French President Francois Hollande addresses a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, September 18, 2014.

France will set up a military hospital in West Africa in the coming days as part of France’s contribution to the fight against the Ebola outbreak there, President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

Hollande said that France’s response to the outbreak would not be limited to a financial contribution to European funds being made available to fight the virus, which the World Health Organization said on Thursday had claimed 2,630 lives so far.

“I have therefore taken the decision to set up a military hospital in the coming days in … the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak,” Hollande said during a news conference.

Death toll in West Africa Ebola epidemic has reached 2,630 in the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in history, which has so far infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“The upward epidemic trend continues in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the United Nations health agency said.

In a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 40 deaths had been reported out of 71 cases by Sept. 15, the WHO said.

Death Toll In West Africa Ebola Epidemic Reaches 2,630 – WHO

EbolaAt least 2,630 people have died in the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in history, which has so far infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

In an update on the epidemic, which is raging through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and has spread into Nigeria and Senegal, the WHO said there were no signs yet of it slowing.

“The upward epidemic trend continues in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the United Nations health agency said.

Those three countries account for the vast majority of cases and deaths in the outbreak – 8 others have died in Nigeria, out of 21 cases, and one case has been confirmed in Senegal.

The WHO said a surge in Ebola in Liberia is being driven primarily by a continued increase in the number of cases reported in the capital, Monrovia, where 1,210 bed spaces were needed, five times the current capacity.

The WHO has said it hopes to be able to “bend the curve” in the almost exponential increase in cases within three months.

The latest data updated five days of data for Liberia and one day for the other countries, and showed no new deaths in Sierra Leone since the previous update.

The WHO said efforts to integrate various sources of data in Liberia would lead to many cases being reclassified and about 100 previously unreported cases had been found and would be included in later updates.

In a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 40 deaths had been reported out of 71 cases by Sept. 15, the WHO said.

Nigeria Is Now Ebola Free – Health Minister

Onyebuchi Chukwu on Ebola Virus.The Nigerian Health Minister has told the Federal Executive Council that there is “no single case of Ebola” in the nation.

Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu gave the positive report while briefing reporters on the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak containment at the end of the Federal Executive Council Meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.

According to him, the suspected case from Ife has been declared Ebola free while the south African woman, who was also quarantined, had no case of Ebola and has been moved to her country.

The Minister also said that in all, the total number of contacts was 363.

Of this number, four are in Lagos while the rest are in Rivers State.

He said that the total number of cases discharged from surveillance since the importation of the disease into Nigeria was 517 monitored without any problems.

Since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa in March, over 2,400 deaths have been recorded.

Okorocha Tasks Medical Researchers On Finding Ebola Cure

Rochas OkorochaMedical practitioners and researchers in Nigeria have been tasked on intensifying efforts into finding a cure for the Ebola Virus Disease and other deadly diseases rather than waiting on other developed countries for solution.

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state made the call at the graduation ceremony of the 6th set of Imo State University medical doctors held at the University Teaching Hospital auditorium, Orlu.

“This Nation is in shock of Ebola and Ebola has become a thing of concern. In fact every Nigerian now is worried. Some people no longer shake hands because of  the fear of Ebola. The time has come when we must never wait for the western world to held us get the cure for Ebola.

“I believe that you can provide the information and you can do it. Determination can make everything possible,” he said in a speech delivered at the graduation ceremony.

The Governor said his administration in the last three years had contributed immensely to the development of the Medical school and would not relent in providing the needed infrastructural and medical research equipments to the institution so as to produce best crop of medical students.

While congratulating the 56 graduates the Governor promised a cash gift of 500 thousand Naira to the overall best graduating student in Medicine and Surgery, Miss Olaedo Izuagba and also offered her an automatic employment with the state government upon completion of her Housemanship.

 

Netherlands To Evacuate Two Doctors Who Had Contact With Ebola Victims

Ebola health workers.

Authorities in the Netherlands are preparing to evacuate two Dutch doctors who had unprotected contact in Sierra Leone with patients who later died of Ebola, a Dutch public health official said on Friday.

The two doctors have shown no symptoms of the virus but authorities believe there is cause for concern because they were not wearing full protective clothing when they came into contact with the patients..

“The two doctors’ personal protection should be considered inadequate. They could potentially have been exposed,” said Jaap van Dissel, director of the Dutch Centre for Infectious Disease Control.

The two doctors will be evacuated on a special flight to minimise the risk of contagion to other passengers and monitored closely on arrival, according to media reports.

“It’s only contagious if they have a fever,” van Dissel said, and added that if symptoms developed, the two would be placed in quarantine in a university hospital.

Dutch public television said the case was discovered when the doctors came to the Netherlands’ nearest embassy in Ghana after the patients they had been in contact with at the Lion Heart Medical Centre in Yaletown died of Ebola.

The clinic, which normally deals with cases of malaria, which has symptoms similar to Ebola, has since been shut down by authorities in Sierra Leone.

More than 2,400 people have died so far from Ebola in West Africa since the outbreak started in March, taking a particularly heavy toll among medical workers, more than 120 of whom have died of the disease as of late August, according to the World Health Organization.

Ebola: Nigeria Must Create Legal Policy To Curb Stigmatization – Strategist

EbolaAn Economist and Communication Strategist, Dr. Olaniyi Ibidapo, says stigmatization is one of the effects of any outbreak of diseases which comes out of fear, misinformation or misrepresentation of situations.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he stated that except Nigeria comes up with “a legal policy and awareness creation among the populace, stigmatization would be a serious problem in the future.”

With a background of having done extensive research in Communications strategies with a bias for Health communication, Ibidapo recommended “multidimensional, multifaceted approaches” in sensitizing the populace on the facts about the Ebola Virus.

He explained that this is based on the notion that “the more the approaches, the more the effect of realising the goal.

Most of these approaches are international templates that have not been adequately tested, so you cannot measure the effectiveness immediately. So you cannot rely on one approach,” he said.

Mass media, sensitization and training were among the approaches highlighted by Ibidapo but he noted that the community being involved remained an important feature in all the approaches.

He stated that the prevalence of the Ebola Virus Disease has been within the communities and “whatever the implementations you’re going to take on this Ebola outbreak, communities have to be involved.

When I mean communities, it has to be the religious organisations, the MDAs, the NGOs, the individuals and the corporate bodies. This is the big opportunity for the corporate bodies in Nigeria to take advantage of, because Ebola is everybody’s business now.”

Speaking further on the issue of Ebola stigmatization, Dr. Ibidapo stated that Nigeria would need to improve its health infrastructure as this would help the country.

However, he noted, “Ebola victims need to come out and let people know they are still alive. That is why policy implication has to start because when Government backs it up with a law – Ebola health policy – this will help us in identifying and recognizing that we could curb Ebola spread.”

While he appreciated the Nigerian culture, which he says is communal and does not necessarily encourage the idea of victims coming out, he maintained that an upgrade of Nigeria’s health infrastructure would help build some confidence.

He also highlighted the level illiteracy in Nigeria as another challenge. “The population is huge, a lot of people are educated but are they really informed?”

The Consultant refused to blame citizens for the discriminative attitude towards Ebola survivors as he admitted that indeed fear was responsible for this, but “with information we will understand that once it is cured, it is cured.”

He made reference to a Channels Television report which featured an Ebola survivor who has suffered stigmatization.

As we have seen, he is healthy, he is hale and he is active. The society needs to support him, the Government needs to back him up in terms of establishing a policy, making it a law and making sure that they prosecute any offender.

It is an offence to infringe on the other person’s human rights – rights of association and right to work. It is a serious offence within our system here.”

He called for support for the survivors of the EVD, with emphasis on the need for everybody to be involved.

OAU Ebola Scare: Female Student Tests Negative To EVD

OAU EbolaVice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Bamitale Omole, has cleared the air surrounding the status of the female student of the institution who was suspected to have been a secondary contact ‎with Ebola Virus Disease.

He confirmed that she has tested negative to the deadly virus.

Speaking to newsmen in Ile-Ife in Osun state, Prof. Bamitale Omole made it clear that the lady who was sent to the Ebola Isolation Centre in Lagos for further clinical and laboratory investigation, has been certified and proved negative of the dreaded EVD .

Prof. Omole gave assurance that the institution would in no way stigmatize the student who is still out of town, more so when she has been clinically confirmed ‎free of the Ebola Virus.

On measures put in place to curtail the EVD, Prof. Omole said that foreign students have been asked not to resume yet, particularly the ones from Liberia, until the coast is clear.

He urged the people to go about their normal activities, assuring that the OAU Ebola Surveillance Committee would continue to maintain all precautionary measures to ensure that OAU remains Ebola Free.