The Federal Government has denied the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Calabar, Cross River State.
This came just as authorities of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital on Friday dispelled the rumour of the existence of the deadly disease in the institution.
The development came just as the result of sample from the dead victim whose ailment was likened to that of the EVD was still being awaited.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the dead victim, who was identified as Eyamba, was a 200 level student of the Department of Political Science, University of Calabar.
The hospital authority had on Thursday said the deceased was suspected to have died of haemorrhagic fever and not EVD.
It was, however, learnt on Friday that Eyamba’s sister, whose name could not be ascertained, was also said to have contracted the same ailment and had since recuperated in their family’s residence in the Calabar-South area of the state capital.
Speaking during a sensitisation workshop for workers of UCTH and other health agencies in the state, the Chairman of Medical Advisory Committee of the institution, Dr. Queeneth Kalu, said the information on the EVD existence in the hospital was false.
She said, however, that a temporary out-patient accident and emergency ward had been opened in the community medicine unit of the hospital to cater for emergency cases.
Kalu said, “The wrong information had been in the air for the past few days and it is not good for us. We have had to organise this sensitisation workshop for an update and also to acknowledge all those who had taken positive steps to allay fears.
“As we speak, a temporary accident and emergency unit has been opened as a temporary measure to attend to out-patients. The information being peddled is false and it is spread by those who do not have any genuine information.”
But there was no explanation as to why the accident and emergency ward of the hospital was still locked. No reference was also made to the 15 health workers and patients that were quarantined on Tuesday.
However, a medical doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the result of the sample taken from Eyamba was not out.
He also said the parents of the family of the deceased were worried about the way the death of their son had created panic.
The source said, “The parents of the deceased are worried that the sad news of their son’s death has created negative publicity for the hospital when his sister, who had the same symptom, had recovered in the house. The family is even begging the hospital authorities to release the body for burial.
“The truth is that the result has yet to be released and even if it is released, after the investigation in Nigeria, it will still be taken out of the country for further investigation. It is definitely haemorrhagic fever and not EVD as being peddled.”
Although tests conducted on the patient did not show positive signs of both Lasser Fever and Ebola, the Federal Government had decided to ascertain what could actually have been responsible for the death of the patient.
The Federal Government commended the field epidemiologists and port-health officials at UNICAL for their management of the situation.
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, who made the clarification at a press briefing on Friday in Abuja, said the successful containment of EVD in Nigeria in October, 2014 had since then generated the optimism to build a more resilient health system.
Though he said there was no Ebola outbreak in the country, he added that the medical personnel who handled the patient “will still remain under observation and surveillance.”
He said, “Tests on the blood sample were run throughout the night and as of 8am (on Friday), results confirmed that the deceased tested negative for both the Ebola Virus and Lassa Fever Virus. Additional tests using next generation sequencing methods are currently being carried out at the Redeemers University African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Ede, Osun State, to confirm which virus must have caused the infection and death. The result of these tests is expected on Monday, October 12, 2015.
“The Federal Ministry of Health hereby confirms that there is no Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, and thus Nigeria remains Ebola-free.”
Awute, however, advised members of the public to continue to observe good hygienic behaviour that includes hand washing, hand sanitisation and general environmental cleanliness.
According to him, through such optimism from the containment of Ebola last year, aided by deep patriotic devotion, the government had prevented the recurrence of Ebola in the country.
He said, “We have followed the recent rumours of Ebola to find that it is the case of a 21 year-old-male student of UNICAL who was brought into the casualty ward of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital by the mother and other family members on October 7, 2015, at about 1am has been investigated clinically and laboratory tests carried out.
“The patient was admitted with bleeding, diarrhoea, vomiting, skin rashes and mouth lesions. His temperature on admission was 37 degrees centigrade and his vital signs were stable. The parents said that the patient had never travelled outside Calabar. On the basis of the signs and symptoms, a tentative diagnosis of viral hemorrhagic fever, to rule out Lassa fever was made.
“Some of his family members, especially the brother and sister had a history of chicken pox in the last one week, prior to his falling ill. The patient was treated with antipyretics and antibiotics during the course of illness and received intravenous fluids. Sadly, at exactly 8:15am, seven hours post-admission, the patient passed on.
“The death created panic among the medical team that attended to him; 15 health workers and eight patients who had direct or indirect contact with the deceased were quarantined. Other hospital workers were provided with thermometers to monitor their temperature twice daily.”
The permanent secretary also said that the blood sample collected from the patient was taken to Irrua Lassa Fever Specialist Hospital Laboratory in Edo State for confirmation of haemorrhagic fever disease that included Ebola Virus, Lassa fever, Dengue Fever and other viruses.