Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has described the presence of Ebola in Nigeria as a national emergency.
The minister said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Health following the death of one of the primary contacts of the late American-Liberian, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who died recently of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Lagos.
“The fact that a Liberian victim of the disease, Mr. Patrick Sawyer could come and die in Nigeria meant that the virus was a global threat,” said Chukwu.
“This is a national emergency. Everyone in the world today is at risk. The experience of Nigeria opens the eyes of the world,” he added.
Earlier, in Abuja, Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, while announcing the death of the nurse at a press briefing, said: “Yesterday (Tuesday), August 5, 2014, the first known Nigerian to die of the EVD was recorded and this was one of the nurses that attended to the Liberian. The other five cases are currently being treated at the isolation ward in Lagos.
“Nigeria has now recorded seven confirmed cases of Ebola virus. The first one was the index case – the imported case from Liberia of which the victim is now late.
“All the Nigerians diagnosed of the Ebola virus were primary contacts of the index case.
“The 24/7 Emergency Operation Centre which I intimated you of in my last press conference will be fully functional tomorrow (today).
“It will be headed by Dr. Faisal Shuaibu as the Incident Manager. He will later today (yesterday) lead a six-man inter-agency team drawn from National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, the US CDC, the WHO, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Lagos to complete the setting up of the Centre.”
The team includes medical personnel from the Lagos State Government and experts from federal hospitals in the Lagos area as well as the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
Already, government has appointed a Director of Communication and Community Mobilization , Prof. O. Onajole, of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He will be based in Lagos.
Chukwu noted that government is embarking on recruiting additional health personnel to strengthen the team who are currently managing the situation in Lagos.
He said there were plans to procure relevant equipment for management of the patients who are in isolation.
“We are making arrangements to procure isolation tents to quicken the pace of providing isolation wards in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Terrority.”
Government is also setting up a special team to provide counselling and psychological support to patients, identified contacts and their families.