Lagos — It was a case of mixed fortunes for the nation, yesterday, in the management of the Ebola Virus Disease as three fresh cases were discovered, while four of those earlier admitted at the isolation centre in Lagos were discharged.
Lagos State Health Commissioner, Dr. Jide Idris, who confirmed the emergence of three new cases, remarked: "As at yesterday, (Sunday), we had three new suspected cases. One of them is a blood sample from Kaduna State, while the two others are from Lagos and they are primary contacts. A reason for this was that they do not have the laboratory to test for the virus.
"What we have now is that, there are four people dead, including the index (Mr. Patrick Sawyer). We have eight in the isolation ward before Saturday when we released the doctor, and this doctor was released after testing negative and going through the World Health Organisation, WHO and Centre for Disease Control, CDC, procedures for discharge.
Four more discharged
Four additional confirmed patients of Ebola Virus Disease have been discharged from the isolation centre of the Mainland Hospital in Lagos.
The discharged patients, including two male medical doctors, one female nurse and another patient, have been managed successfully and are now disease-free and ready to resume their normal life activities.
The development brings to five the total number of patients diagnosed with Ebola who have now been discharged from hospital, following the discharge of the first EVD patient over the weekend.
Announcing the development yesterday in Abuja, Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the three participated in the treatment of the first case of Ebola in Nigeria, the late American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer while the fourth person was a female patient at the time the index case was on admission.
In Lagos, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who briefed newsmen along with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, said the patients would be released yesterday (Monday).
"We have 12 confirmed cases and that includes the index (first) case and all the other cases that we have confirmed positive and those who have died. And today, we have four more patients ready for discharge, and they have gone through the same protocol -- the protocol is that before we release anyone or certify him or her negative, he or she has to be symptoms-free for over three days. Also, we had to test their blood and the result proved negative of the virus.
"They will be released today (yesterday) after they have completed their counselling exercise being conducted by our psycho-social team, but they will come periodically for check-ups; though they are okay."
Three others in Isolation
Assuring that everything was under control, the commissioner said the new cases were being closely monitored.
"The other three patients are still being monitored at the isolation centre. Once they get better, they will be released too.
"The lady who ran to Enugu is still in isolation and has tested positive to the virus. She is among the three still under isolation."
Treatment of patients
On the nature of treatment being accorded Ebola virus disease patients, Idris explained that there was no specific treatment per se.
"We treat the patients based on the presentation. For instance, if the patient shows symptoms of diarrhoea, he or she has to be treated with electrolyte and others. If the person shows signs of pain, he or she will be given pain-relieving drugs. We have enough drugs to take care of them.
"If they require intensive care, we will do that. This is part of the equipment that has been brought in. They will be provided with such."
More medical personnel
Giving an update on medical personnel available to care for the patients, Idris remarked: "At the moment, we have more medical personnel to care for the patients. We have eight doctors and nine nurses and some health workers who have gone through the training. We have also been joined by infectious disease experts from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH. All these people have gone through the training. Though the number is not enough; we need more."
Reacting to the development, the Director of Communication and Community Mobilisation for Ebola in Nigeria, Professor Adebayo Onajole said that the country has been able to contain the spread through increased surveillance at the country's borders (air, land and sea), increased awareness and less disinformation about the disease in the country.
Onajole, a consultant public health expert noted that universal health precautions and personal hygiene are currently being encouraged, a situation which has helped halt the spread of the disease.
He said: "Efforts are currently ongoing to scale up and strengthen all aspects of response, including contact tracking, public information and community mobilization, case management and infection prevention and control, and coordination. There is now increased disease surveillance system in a bid to monitor, control, and prevent any occurrence of the disease," he concluded.
Five committees have been set up in the country to halt the spread of the disease, investigations reveal. These committees include contact tracing - responsible for tracing contacts of infected persons; case management unit - responsible for managing established cases; and point of entry unit which is charged with the responsibility of examining persons entering Nigeria from various borders.
Three quarantined in Makurdi
Meanwhile, two missionary workers and their driver have been quarantined at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi, the Benue state capital, on suspicion of infection with Ebola virus.
Chief Medical Director of BSUTH, Professor Orkurga Malu, who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi, dispelled rumours that the quarantined persons were infected with the virus.
Malu explained that Benue indigenes who hitherto resided in Monrovia for a year where they engaged in missionary work, relocated from the Liberian capital in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.
"There is no truth that some Benue indigenes from Monrovia, Liberia are victims of the deadly Ebola virus. What happened is that since some airlines have shut down operations to Liberia, the couple and their driver had to take a connecting flight from their base to Accra, Ghana where they stayed for a week before travelling to Nigeria."
While refusing to disclose the identity of the persons concerned, Malu said, on arrival in the state, they were quickly admitted in the hospital and have been kept under close observation.
"They have not shown any symptoms of the disease because at every stage their temperature is checked and tested right from Monrovia before they boarded the plane to Ghana and then Nigeria.
"Since they came in here on Thursday, we have been testing them on a daily basis and there is no evidence of temperature rise or any of the symptoms of the virus.
"So we are 99.9 per cent sure that they do not have Ebola virus. But just in the remotest case of 0.1 percent, we have kept them to ensure they do not have the disease," he stated.
The CMD who urged the people of the state not to panic assured that the hospital has adequate facilities to cater for any victim of the virus.