Lagos, Ado Ekiti, Port Harcourt, Osogbo, Bauchi and Abuja — The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has warned that infected men who have recovered from the killer Ebola virus disease (EVD) can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after the recovery.
Director General of the Institute, Innocent Ujah, gave the warning on Thursday at a one-day sensitisation programme on the EVD at the Lagos State University (LASU).
Ujah, whose presentation was titled, 'Clinical features and management of Ebola virus Disease', stressed that men who have recovered from the illness should abstain from sexual intercourse till about eighth to ninth week of total recovery.
"Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery from illness.
"Any man that has recovered from the Ebola disease should wait for eight to nine weeks after recovery before having sexual intercourse, in order not to transmit the virus to another person," he counselled.
Ujah, a gynaecologist, said NIMR was aware that the virus is coming and it has started preparing for it, adding that the institute is preparing to upgrade its facilities to take care of the disease and other deadly ones.
He reiterated that there is no definite therapy or vaccine against Ebola, noting that Nigerians have never paid sufficient attention to infectious diseases like this.
Ujah added that this is the first time Nigerians have responded to emergency.
Also, Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, whose presentation was entitled, 'EVD in the community: The myths and prevention', stated that myths refer to a lot of rumours, beliefs, perception from ordinary taboos, culture-guided understanding, sentiments and at some extreme, hard views that may not have scientific backing but being peddled around to create scare or fear with or without deliberate intentions.
According to him, examples of myths around Ebola recently include the use of salt in water to bathe for reduction of Ebola virus chances of infectiousness, the chewing of bitter cola in large quantity to prevent contagiousness of Ebola virus and the consumption of some daily quantity of condensed milk to prevent Ebola virus attack among others.
He stated that in breaking these myths, "it is good to note that Ebola virus is the cause of Ebola virus disease".
"It is when we come in contact with an infected living person or dead corpse and we have contacts with either their body fluids or secretions like blood, vomiting, stool, saliva, sweat etc that we are likely to be infected," Arigbabuwo said.
On its part, the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has offered to support government's efforts in containing the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria.
But it said the country could effectively tame the highly infectious disease only if certain measures are taken.
President of the academy, Oyewale Tomori, in a statement on Thursday said the institution remains optimistic that Nigeria was capable of controlling the outbreak of the disease if the available human and material resources are maximally deployed.
The academy said the outbreak of EVD is a wake-up call for Nigeria to optimise its science and technology research potential in solving common problems.
"The outbreak of EVD has shown the importance of science and technology as the pillars of any sustainable economic development.
"Priority must be given to science and technology, and especially to funding research and ensuring a conducive environment for scientists in this Nigeria," Tomori noted.
The academy hailed the response of the government at both state and federal levels to the outbreak, which it said, has received encouraging support of international development agencies, and local professional associations and institutions.
The academy also had some words for the media.
"Ebola control involves critical management of the information in the public domain. The press must be actively engaged as critical stakeholders to ensure accurate and appropriate information dissemination."
To the public, it said: "The public need not panic but should rather fully cooperate with the appointed health authorities.
"The EVD is a deadly disease but patients stand a good chance of survival if taken in early for supportive management.
"The Nigerian record of the number of patients already discharged from the Ebola Treatment Centre strongly supports this."
Also, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has provided necessary protective devices to its officers and men against the EVD.
Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, distributed the devices at a strategic session with commanding officers of the corps in Abuja.
Oyeyemi explained that protective tools such as sanitizers, gloves, gabs, nose guards, and clinic gowns among others were provided for the personnel.
He added that the move became necessary because the officers were constantly in contact with other people in the course of their operations.
"As a public-facing government agency, the Corps' operatives are in constant contact with victims of road crashes in the course of rescue activities and also offer medical services to members of the public at our road side clinics located along strategic routes of the highways, hence the need to make these provisions in order to safe guard our personnel from unforeseen circumstances tied to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)," he said.
National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Bauchi State has similarly embarked on grassroots public enlightenment on how to prevent the disease from spreading to the state.
State NOA Director, Jummai Bello, stated this while addressing journalists in Bauchi on Thursday.
She said the agency would not fold its hands and allow Ebola virus come near the state, noting that the campaign against the disease was a collective effort.
From Osun State came a report that organisers of the annual Osun Osogbo Festival have insisted that the event will hold as planned in spite of the fear of Ebola.
The grand finale of the 2014 edition of the festival will hold today.
The Medical and Dental Consultants' Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECHTH), Osogbo branch, had in a statement on Wednesday called for the postponement of the festival.
?The association cautioned that large gathering of any kind should not be allowed at the moment in the state, when the country was still struggling to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.?
?But addressing a press conference in Osogbo on Thursday, Ayo Olumoko, Chief Festival Consultant to the organisers of Osun Osogbo, said the call for shift of the event was unnecessary, since both Muslim and Christian gatherings have not been stopped because of the rampaging virus.?
?Olumoko said there were also insinuations that the Federal Government may stop the festival to prevent the spread of the virus into Osun State, adding that while Osogbo community would not defy any order by government aimed at containing the virus, it would be unfair to stop the festival, after almost two weeks of different activities.?
?He, however, added that though no agency of government has approached the organisers of the festival with the proposal to stop its grand finale.
He assured that the Osogbo community would cooperate with government to ensure a hitch free festival today.
Rivers State Government also said it was at full alert to arrest the Ebola virus in the event of its entrant into the state.
The government it important be on red alert in view of Rivers State's proximity to Liberia and other affected neighbouring countries on the western coast.
It added that it was easy for any affected patient from the ravaged countries to run to Nigeria through the sea route.
State Commissioner for Health, Samson Parker, said in Port Harcourt on Thursday that though government was not afraid of the disease in terms of tackling it, there was no reason for anybody to panic.
Parker reminded residents of the state that the same government which effectively handled the outbreak of the Lassa fever will equally tackle the Ebola virus if it is reported anywhere in the state.
"Rivers State Government is on alert. There is a need also to sensitise, educate and inform the public, but not to panic them on the seriousness of the Ebola deadly virus.
"This is exactly what the Rivers State Government is doing because we have a very functional healthcare system in the state," the commissioner said.
Ekiti State Commissioner for Health, Olusola Fasubaa, on the other hand has urged medical doctors and other health workers in the state to desist from spreading panic messages about the Ebola virus through the internet.
Briefing newsmen in his office in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, Fasubaa said "the wicked messages had regrettably led to death of non-Ebola patient in the state".
The commissioner particularly regretted the death of a health worker from Ogotun-Ekiti who had come to the state capital for an official assignment but slumped.
Fasubaa explained that the alleged unprofessional conduct of some medics in Ado-Ekiti hospitals led to the eventual death of the 60-year-old woman.
"On 20th August, 2014, a 55-60 year- old health care giver at Ogotun-Ekiti who was said not to have had any complaint of illness in the last two months and no current history of travel outside the state (according to her neighbours) got to the data bank of the Ministry of Health at about 1.00 p.m. and collapsed after coughing out blood and subsequently vomited and she was immediately tagged Ebola victim without an adequate history taken, and people started running away," Fasubaa said.
He spoke of how four different private hospitals rejected the patient due to SMS messages allegedly sent by some doctors, suggesting that it was an Ebola case.
"The woman subsequently died in the late evening. The unnecessary write up through the social media by some doctors in the state is uncalled for, as it seemed to be counter productive to the efforts of the state government in containing and curtailing the spread of the virus," the commissioner added.
He said the ministry would soon liaise with the family of the deceased with a view to knowing the actual cause of her death, urging the medics to always think of common diseases in the community "and by so doing we shall prevent unnecessary death in Ekiti".
Ogun State Government on its part has postponed the resumption date for all primary and secondary schools in the state earlier scheduled for September 15 to a date to be announced later.
State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Segun Odubela, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.
He said this was in response to the Federal Ministry of Education's directive that schools in the country should put resumption for 2014/2015 on hold to curb the spread of the EVD.
Odubela urged parents and guardians to take proper care of their children and wards by monitoring their movement and engaging them in academic activities.