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.

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.

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

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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.

Ebola: Lagos Insists On September 22 Resumption Date For Schools

Lagos Schools resumptionThe Lagos State government in Nigeria’s south-south has supported the September 22 resumption date for all public and private nursery, primary and secondary schools in the state as announced by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had said that the date was agreed on after a national consultation on efforts to contain the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria.

A statement by the Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Information and Strategy, Lateef Raji, said that although the resumption date was advisory, as education had remained a concurrent matter to be regulated by the respective Federal and States Authorities, Lagos State Government considered it eminently justifiable.

The State government said its decision was in view of the fact that there was currently no known carrier of EVD in the State at the moment.

“Furthermore, the last individual suspected to have been exposed to the virus will be discharged from observation on September 18, 2014, if he tests negative for the virus. All public and private educational institutions in the State are therefore directed to schedule their resumption accordingly.

“Considering the current situation report, it is clear that the risk of infection with EVD in Lagos State has been significantly reduced. Health professionals working on the outbreak are also in agreement that there is no reason why schools should remain closed beyond the 22nd of September, 2014.

“In spite of the foregoing, the State Government has now developed and will deploy all resources necessary to sustain the capacity to promptly take into custody any person suspected to be infected with EVD, as well as safely test, monitor and isolate such a person for treatment as may be found necessary without endangering other members of the public,” the statement read.

Remain Very Vigilant

The State government further acknowledged the need for all Nigerians to remain very vigilant, as the disease is still in other countries within West Africa.

Some steps that should be taken in some schools, whether public or private, before and after resumption, as stated by the State government include; training and sensitisation of students, vendors, teachers and non academic staff on EVD and how to avoid it; identification of EVD Focal Persons in schools who would be responsible for surveillance and health monitoring; provision of adequate environmental sanitation, including clean toilets and premises and provision of running water and soap and encouragement of frequent hand washing.

Other important steps listed were sensitisation of students on other personal hygiene habits, like the use of handkerchiefs when sneezing or coughing and arrangement for prompt referral of any sick person to the nearest health institution for treatment.

The State government further reiterated that the health of all residents was a matter of utmost importance, stressing that if any reasons emerge for a reconsideration of the school resumption date, a well-considered decision would be taken and the general public will be informed accordingly.

In the statement, health workers were commended for their efforts in ensuring the containment of EVD.

Health institutions, which might have suffered adverse economic consequences as a result of the epidemic that has claimed seven lives in Nigeria, were assured of the State government’s plan to assist them to mitigate their loses and safely reopen for business as soon as possible.

Minister Tells FEC ‘Nigeria Will Be Free From Ebola Soon’

Ebola Health Workers.The Federal Executive Council was on Wednesday told that Nigeria will soon be free from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) scourge.

The Minister of Health Dr Onyebuchi Chukwu, who gave the council an update on the containment of the disease, said that Nigeria was having a final turnaround on Ebola, as no Nigeria was suffering from the disease.

Reeling out the statistics, Dr Chukwu said that only 19 cases was recorded so far since the the beak out of the virus and that there was no fresh case of EVD.

According to him, the total number of cases so far treated and discharged stands at 10, the last two cases being the sister of the Port Harcourt doctor who died. Seven deaths were recorded. .

The wife of the doctor has also been discharged, leaving the Lagos isolation ward empty.

The Minister told Nigerians to desist from rumour, but report any suspected case to the appropriate quarters.

On the controversy over the resumption of schools, the Minister said that it was irrational to shut down schools for so long, as there was no community outbreak of the disease.

Britain To Send Military, Humanitarian Experts To Fight Ebola

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Britain will send military and humanitarian experts to Sierra Leone to set up a medical treatment centre to care for victims of the Ebola outbreak there, the British High Commission said on its Twitter feed on Monday.

The epidemic in West Africa – the worst in the disease’s history – has killed some 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal.

The World Health Organization believes it will take six to nine months to contain.

It has called for support from all nations of the World in an effort to contain the spread of the disease and had authorised the use of untested drugs  in the treatment of patients.

A British health worker had contracted the disease last month in West Africa and was flown to the UK for treatment. He recovered and was discharged last week.

 

Ebola: Health Minister Says Disease Will Soon Be Stamped Out In Nigeria

EbolaThe Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said that he is confident that the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria will be taken care of.

Professor Chukwu, who led a delegation from the Ministry of Health to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Friday to ascertain the level of work done by the Ebola response team in the state, said that doctors were assisting Ebola virus patients by replacing their lost fluid to get well .

“The electrolyte you have lost is replaced. We need to ensure that if you need blood, we give you blood transfusion. Ebola virus can be managed, it is not a death sentence,” Professor Chukwu said.’

Chukwu added, however, that the virus does not have a specific drug yet and that many diseases were like that.

“We have not been able to get a reliable vaccine. So, all the vaccines are going through clinical trials.

“Hopefully, we will get one soon. But, for now, we don’t have,  but we do manage,”  he said.

Received by members of the Ebola response team in the state led by the Commissioner of Health, Samson Parker, the Minister’s first assignment was to visit the treatment centre at Oduha, Emohua Local Government Area, before proceeding to the National Disease Control Centre in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Choba to take a look at the mobile testing laboratory centre where blood samples could be tested for the virus.

He said what he saw was of world class standard.

The Minister confirmed that it was just one case of Ebola virus patient that was in the treatment centre in Rivers State, who is the sister of the late doctor.

He further stated that 18 cases of the disease were registered in the country so far, eight of which have been discharged

“The government is on top of the situation and we will do our best to make sure that we stamp out the disease,” he said.

“Ebola is not a death sentence and can be managed.” That is the message the Ministry of Health in Rivers State and the Federal Government hope will get to Nigerians, as the fight against the virus intensifies.

Use Ebola Survivors’ Blood To Treat Other Patients – WHO

Ebola-QuarantinedThe World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the blood of patients who recover from Ebola should be used to treat others.

The WHO also announced that Ebola vaccines could be used on the frontline by November.

People produce antibodies in the blood in an attempt to fight off an Ebola infection.

In theory, those antibodies can be transferred from a survivor into a sick patient to give their immune system a boost.

However, large scale data on the effectiveness of the therapy is lacking.

A global group of experts have been meeting to assess the experimental therapies that could contain Ebola.

Studies on the 1995 outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo showed seven out of eight people survived after being given the therapy.

West Africa is facing the largest Ebola outbreak in history and more than 2,000 people have died.

Dr Marie Paule Kieny, an assistant director general at WHO, said: “We agreed that whole blood therapies may be used to treat Ebola virus and all efforts must be invested to help infected countries to use them.

“There is a real opportunity that a blood-derived product can be used now and this can be very effective in terms of treating patients”.

She said that it was the one positive aspect of so many people being infected.

“There are also many people now who have survived and are doing well. They can provide blood to treat the other people who are sick.”

Vaccines

There is no clinically proven drug or vaccine to treat Ebola, but many are in the experimental stage.

Around 150 experts have spent the last two days investigating how to fast-track promising experimental drugs to make them available in West Africa as soon as possible.

Ebola vaccine trials started in the US this week and will be extended to centres in the UK, Mali and Gambia in the coming weeks.

The WHO said safety data would be ready by November 2014 and, if it proved safe, would be used in West Africa immediately.

Healthcare workers and other frontline staff would be prioritised for vaccination, the WHO said.

Experimental drugs – such as ZMapp, which has been used in seven patients including a British volunteer nurse – were also assessed.

Nigeria Is Not Free Of Ebola Yet – FG

Professor Onyebuchi ChukwuThe Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has cautioned that Nigerians should not be carried away with the euphoria of the successful containment of the Ebola Virus Disease.

Professor Chukwu said on tuesday in Abuja, after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday that “the risk of transmission still exists as long as there is still Ebola Virus disease in West Africa”.

“I don’t want Nigerians to panic but I don’t want us to be carried away with euphoria because if we still have one case of Ebola Virus Disease, it is an emergency because the World Health Organization defines Ebola epidemic as when one person is infected with the disease. We have to be cautious as long as there is still a victim in the country,” the Health Minister added.

According to the Health Minister, 13 cases have been reported so far, out of which five persons died while seven had been managed successfully and discharged, leaving Nigeria with only one case.

He told reporters on Tuesday that the patient, who is a spouse to one of the health workers that attended to the index patient, Patrick Sawyer, was responding to treatment.