Against the background of the new outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris, yesterday said an embargo had also been placed on transportation of corpses from the DRC. He also announced that all Ebola centres in Lagos had been reactivated as part of measures to prevent possible re-emergence of the disease.
Similarly, the commissioner appealed to striking health workers under the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to consider the plight of patients and return to work, saying at this particular time there was possibility of the outbreak of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) in the country.
In the same vein, the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Congo DR has risen from three to 14, according to the Central African country’s Health Ministry.
At a press conference in Lagos to announce the commencement of the state’s free health mission in 11 local government areas and 24 local council development areas (LCDAs), Idris said the state in collaboration with Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), had commenced regional screening of passengers from DRC and neighbouring countries for any suspected cases of EVD or other VHFs. He noted that although, Ebola was not yet in the country, Lagosians should maintain high level of personal and environmental hygiene. He said: “There is need for Lagos and the country at large to take precautionary measures to prevent the importation of the disease into the country.
“The Government of Lagos State in collaboration with FMOH is putting measures in place to prevent its entry and spread. Some of these measures are the distribution of factsheets on Ebola for health workers.” He urged Lagosians to report suspected cases of VHF to the Directorate of Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health on 08037170614 and 09087106072.
In addition, the state and LGA Disease Surveillance and Notification of Officers (DSNOs) have been sensitised on Ebola and other Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers, especially on prompt reporting of any detected suspected cases of Ebola and other VHFs by the ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said: “The isolation centre in Mainland Hospital Yaba has been reactivated for treatment of any suspected or confirmed cases. Idris said: “Prepositioning of personal protective equipment and other consumables in public health facilities in the state. “I want to appeal to all Lagosians to reduce their risk of infection by observing high standard of personal and environmental hygiene such as hand washing with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching or washing of dead bodies if not trained to do so and ensuring that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed.”
Noting that all fluids from an infected person are extremely dangerous, he advised health workers to be at alert and observe high index of suspicion when attending to patients. He warned that mortuary attendants should observe standard precautions in handling of corpses referred to the morgue. In a related development, the commissioner who urged striking workers to sympathise with the patients and return to work, also warned that the state would no longer accept the practice of workers locking up offices when going on strike.
He said the government had tried to meet the demands of the striking workers and was still working assiduously to ensure that all their demands were met. Idris further said to stop unnecessary deaths of patients, the state government has embarked on engaging locum workers and volunteers to fill in the gaps created by the strike. Meanwhile, the Congo Dr ministry in a statement said: “In total since the start of the epidemic, there have been 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever, including 10 suspected cases, 21 probable cases, and 14 confirmed cases.
” The ministry said just one person had been confirmed dead from the virus, but 25 people are suspected to have died from it, according to an online news portal, dpa/NAN. Earlier Thursday, the ministry had only three confirmed cases, one of which – the first in a major urban area – had prompted an urgent World Health Organisation meeting for Friday to decide what measures should be taken, including the possible declaration of a public health emergency.