In a bid to allay fears and restore confidence in public health systmes, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Sunday, said there is no Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in the state.
The governor in a state broadcast on the management of EVD, said though the state has suffered painful loss of lives, the situation was not an epidemic as is being reported because all those who have either died or suffering from Ebola are directly traceable to the index case, American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer.
He disclosed that 61 contacts were cleared last week after the 21 days surveillance, which is the known lifespan of the virus.
“These people were not sick. They were persons who needed to be monitored because of real or suspected contacts to be certain that they did not eventually fall sick. We cautiously wait to see how many more people will be cleared and hope that there will be no new cases.
“Nevertheless, our strategy is to prepare for the worst by making plans to expand the facility to take any new cases, while we hope for the best. There is a lot to do, and we need your collaboration to remain focused on containment and treatment”, Fashola said.
He also debunked claims that Ebola victims under isolation were being neglected, adding that the state did not reject any useful drug, neither is there paucity of funds.
Fashola assured that victims were receiving the best care as recommended by experts, urging medical volunteers willing to fight the cause to sign up and avail themselves for trainings.
“I wish to state very categorically that none of these is true. What is true is that we should perhaps never have been in this situation, but we are now in it. What is true is that the Ebola virus did not break out from within Nigeria, it was imported into Nigeria.
“What is true is that we have followed all the contacts that we know who have had primary and secondary contacts with the patient who imported the virus into our state, or with people who had contact with him.
“Because we had to react to an unexpected situation, we had to react in a proper and methodical way, according to acceptable global health standards.
“I can now tell you that in the last one week, with the help and advice of our technical partners, such as the World Health Organisation, the Centre for Disease Control and the Medecins Sans Frontiers, who have tracked this virus and studied it for decades, our response is a lot better than when the news first broke; and our capacity is increasing daily.
“Although we have suffered very painful losses of lives, I think it is fair to say that we are not yet at an epidemic stage and we are determined to do everything not to get to that stage; because of the grave consequences to the safety of human lives”, said Fashola.
According to the governor, the discovery of EVD in the state, poses a threat to the primary purpose of his administration, which is to save lives, describing the situation as the biggest challenge to public health.
He stated that he has been engaged in daily meetings with various stakeholders on the progress made by government and the need for caution, adding that with news of complete recovery of a Nigerian doctor confirmed to have contracted the virus, the case of unknown origin has been laid to rest.
“My view of the fact that we are gaining control, is informed by verifiable facts that I receive daily from our health workers that all the cases of those who have either unfortunately died, or those who are sick, and those who are contacts under surveillance are directly traceable to the imported case.
“The challenge of managing the Ebola virus is big but our resolve to contain and defeat it is bigger. That resolve is demonstrated by the courage shown by the first set of health workers at state and federal levels who stood up to be counted, and the leadership of the state and federal Ministries of Health with the support of our international partners.
“In spite of fear, they stood up to be counted at a time of grave danger. We should salute their courage, professionalism, patriotism and humanitarian disposition. They are the heroes and heroines that we have looked for a long time. I cannot thank them enough.
“While we are doing everything to assure their safety and to give them confidence to proceed; I want to passionately appeal that we must not do anything to distract them or demotivate them”.
Fashola warned those seeking to raise funds to tackle the situation to desist from the act, noting that the state still has the resources to do the needful.
The governor urged the people to report suspected cases around them as well as stop unhygienic practices such as defecating or urinating in public because those are body fluids and waste through which the virus is known to thrive.