As part of measures to avert the spread of the deadly ebola virus disease, no fewer than 59 contacts of the late Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian patient who died of the disease recently in Lagos, have been placed on close surveillance.
The Lagos State commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who disclosed this at a press briefing held in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) officials at the Staff Clinic in Alausa, said there was no cause for alarm.
According to him, "So far, a total of 59 contacts have been registered, consisting 44 hospital contacts, 38 healthcare workers and six laboratory staff and 15 airport contacts comprising three Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) staff driver, liaison and protocol officer, Nigerian ambassador to Monrovia, two nursing staffers and five airport passenger handlers.
"As of the time of this report, 20 contacts had been physically screened, of which 50 percent had type one contact and 50 percent had type two contacts."
The commissioner lamented that the manifest of the Asky Airline Flight No KP50 that brought the victim into the country has not been provided by the airline at the time of this report, saying the precise number of passenger contacts is yet to be ascertained.
He pointed out that two flights were involved (Monrovia-Lome and Lome-Lagos), noting that there was no report of medical incident filed.
Harping on case management, infection prevention and control, he said an isolation ward has been designated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for case management.
According to him, "The designation of three other health facilities is underway. A total of 100 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)s were procured by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) under the FMOH and distributed to the private hospital and the State Ministry of Health. World Health Organisation also donated 250 PPEs to the NCDC/FMOH.
"Adhering strictly to World Health Organisation guidelines, the body of the deceased patient was decontaminated using 10% sodium hypochlorite and cremated, with the permission of the government of Liberia. A cremation urn has been prepared for dispatch to the family. The vehicle that conveyed the remains was also fully decontaminated."
Recognising the importance of involving the community early in the response, he said traditional and religious leaders were alerted about the disease and requested to report promptly to health care workers.
He emphatically reiterated that, "We can categorically state that as of today, we have only one case of imported Ebola and one death. No Nigerian is infected but all contacts are being actively followed.
We call on all Nigerians to be calm and not panic and do hereby assure them that both the state and federal governments are up in arms to ensure that the virus did not escape and that no Nigeria is infected with it."