The Federal and Lagos State governments, yesterday, differed on new suspected cases of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in the country.
While the Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu insisted that there were no new cases of the EVD in Nigeria, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris told reporters that five new suspected cases of Ebola have been recorded in the state.
At a briefing in Lagos, Idris announced that there were five new cases among which were two secondary contacts and three primary contacts with the index (first) case.
The commissioner said the suspected cases had been put at the Ebola isolation ward of the Mainland Hospital, Lagos, without any application of Nano Silver drug and that they would be monitored for the 21-day incubation period of the virus.
“To date we have eight suspected cases and five of them came in yesterday. We have 12 confirmed cases and on the whole, five have died. We are currently following up 213 contacts and 62 have completed the 21-day follow-up,” he said.
“The Ministry of Health commiserates with their families, co-workers, friends and loved ones on these irreparable losses on the line of duty.”
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu however said yesterday in a press statement, that “as at 7:00 PM today, (Wednesday), there is no other confirmed Ebola Virus Disease case in Nigeria outside the two that are currently under treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.”
Chukwu said the clarification became necessary following media reports of five new cases in Lagos State. According to him, “This report should be disregarded.”
He reiterated that any doubtful information on the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria should be verified from the Office of the Minister of Health who has the sole authority to announce confirmed cases as far as disease epidemics in Nigeria are concerned.
The minister further reassured the public that any new confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease will be announced by his office promptly.
Chukwu also enjoined the media to be cautious in reportage of Ebola cases in order not to cause unnecessary tension in the country.
“We appeal that when you are inviting anybody who is supposed to be an expert, especially at this time of national emergency, you may do well to seek our confirmation on whether the person is indeed an expert.
“We also want to state that some of the editorials we are seeing even today in some of the national dailies, is an emotional thing quite alright, but we plead with the media to stay the course. For newspapers to say the Federal Government has been tardy in its response and has not addressed the issues at this time when the World Health Organization, the American government, the US Centres for Disease Control and the generality of Nigerians are commending government, I think it does not speak well of some of our media.
“Inciting the public against the Federal Government because we are emotionally connected to people who are today infected or had been infected of ebola virus disease will not help us as a country.
“The Government of Nigeria has done well, our health professionals even at the risk of their lives are participating in Lagos in managing this situation have done well. The doctors and nurses who work at First Consultants Hospital Lagos, we praise their courage; they have done well. The least we can do is to encourage others, some of whom intend to volunteer, to continue with the care until such a time this is brought under control.
“So all the editorials today are certainly in bad taste. We know they come from personal feelings but this is not the time for emotional outbursts. There is nothing the government has not done, no stone has been left unturned” he said.
He appealed that those who have been discharged should not be stigmatised because they don’t pose a threat to the society any longer.