Top Line

Friday, 8 August 2014

Nigeria places 139 person on Ebola surveillance !

The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu on Friday confirmed two new cases of  Ebola infection in Lagos, which now brings to nine, the number of cases recorded in Nigeria so far.
He also announced that 139 people were currently under surveillance.
Professor Onyebuchi made these known while addressing newsmen in Lagos to give an update on the country’s situation as regards the disease which spread panic across the nation between Thursday and Friday morning..
According to the minister, aside the two fresh cases, there were also six suspected cases which had not been confirmed.
“The total number of cases, as of this morning, (Friday) stands at nine out of which eight are Nigerians and one American-Liberian.
“Out of the nine confirmed cases, seven are alive and are receiving treatment In Lagos,” he said.
He also noted that the fatality rate so far in Nigeria was between 30 to 26 per cent, adding that the rate in all other ECOWAS countries stood at 65 per cent. 
“I am saying this to enlighten people that having Ebola does not mean you have been condemned to death, survivors have been recorded,” Onyebuchi said. 
Also speaking at the press briefing, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, condemned in totality false reports circulating that taking a salted hot water bath could protect one and serve as an antidote to the virus.
The health minister also described the report as “a wicked lie,” adding that “I believe Nigeria has laws in this regard. Such perpetrators must be fished out and prosecuted through the appropriate channels.” 
The two ministers maintained that the best and most effective way to handle the situation was to maintain a regular hand washing culture, use hand sanitisers and reduce handshaking situations with other people. 
Fears over the deadly Ebola virus spread across the country on Friday with panic-stricken Nigerians making frantic efforts to take precautions against contracting the disease.
Measures ranging from the sensible to the ridiculous were circulated all over the country as the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global emergency over the spread of the disease.
A message advising Nigerians to take their bath with hot water mixed with salt in order to avoid the Ebola Virus disease went viral overnight in Nigeria.
The same mixture is also recommended to be taken to ward off the disease.
The spread of the message, kept several Nigerians from the North to the South awake all night creating nationwide panic.
Meanwhile, experts have warned that bathing with salt is no cure for Ebola and that it might even lead to other health complications. 
Dr Olajimi Sodipo, a senior registrar, department of Family Health, Lagos state University, (LASU) said on Channels Television on Friday morning that bathing with salt in water is risky as it could lead to breakage of skin which could aid contracting the virus easily. 
Also, the President of Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Dr Stephen Oluwole, in an interview with Saturday Tribune declared rather ominously that he “ would say that there is a chance for Ebola epidemic now in Nigeria “ because the “initial isolation was not put there right from the onset.” He added that avoiding handshakes would also not help much.   
“People say this, forgetting that that handshake is not the only way we come in contact with other people. If you take an object from somebody, a contact has been established. You do not want to shake hands but you take something from someone in your hands - this transmits something to you. Thinking that if you do not shake hands, you are protected from the virus will be wrong.  What I am saying is that avoidance of handshake would give false hope because people might assume that this is all they need to do. If a patient is close to you; living in your house, you come in contact in so many other ways and you do not know. The problem is that you will not know the point at which you had a contact with the person. That is the issue. Somebody might already be carrying the virus but the disease has not blown out and the person is associating with you before he has the fever, “ he said.
WHO declares Ebola epidemic an international health emergency
West Africa’s Ebola epidemic is an “extraordinary event” and now constitutes an international health risk, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.
The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said the possible consequences of a further international spread of the outbreak, which has killed almost 1,000 people in four West African countries, were “particularly serious” in view of the virulence of the virus.
“A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola,” the WHO said in a statement after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola.
The declaration of an international emergency will have the effect of raising the level of vigilance on the virus.
“The outbreak is moving faster than we can control it,” the WHO’s director-general Margaret Chan told reporters on a telephone briefing from the WHO’s Geneva headquarters.
“The declaration ... will galvanise the attention of leaders of all countries at the top level. It cannot be done by the ministries of health alone.”
The agency said that while all states with Ebola transmission - so far Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - should declare a national emergency, there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.
(See full text on Health and fitness)
“This can be stopped”
Ebola has no proven cures and there is no vaccine to prevent infection, so treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea - all of which can contribute to severe dehydration.
Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s head of health security, stressed that, with the right measures to deal with infected people, the spread of Ebola - which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids - could be stopped.
“This is not a mysterious disease. This is an infectious disease that can be contained,” he told reporters. “It is not a virus that is spread through the air.”
Fukuda said it was important that anyone known to have Ebola should be immediately isolated and treated and kept in isolation for 30 days. “Based on scientific studies, people who have infection can shed virus for up to 30 days,” he said.
The current outbreak, in which at least 1,711 people have so far been infected, of whom 932 have died, is the most severe in the almost 40 years since Ebola was identified in humans.
The WHO said this was partly because of the weakness of the health systems in the countries currently affected, which lacked human, financial and material resources.
It also said inexperience in dealing with Ebola outbreaks and misperceptions of the disease, including how it is transmitted, “continue to be a major challenge in some communities.”
“If we do not in global solidarity come together to help these countries, they will be set back for many years,” Chan said. She noted the three hardest-hit nations had only begun to emerge and rebuild after “years of conflict and difficulties”.
Although most cases of Ebola are in the remote area where Guinea borders Sierra Leone and Liberia, alarm over the spread of the disease increased last month when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria after traveling there by plane from Liberia.