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EBOLA: Nigeria records 61.5 percent survivors

Nigerian and the world at large yesterday received the cheery news that the country has contained the threat of the dreaded EVD follo...

Nigerian and the world at large yesterday received the cheery news that the country has contained the threat of the dreaded EVD following the discharge of seven infected persons out of the 13 confirmed cases. Currently, only one person is at the isolation centre in Lagos and her condition is stable.

Two more patients with the Ebola virus disease have been discharged from the isolation ward in Lagos State,

Nigeria lost five persons to the disease including the index (first) case, Mr Patrick Sawyer, the late Liberian-American who brought the disease to Nigeria on July 20, 2014.

With the development, the disease killed 38.5 per cent of those affected in Nigeria. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 90 per cent of th
ose affected die from Ebola.

Through sheer determination and care on the part of government and awareness by the citizenry, Nigeria ensured that only 13 persons out of a population of 167 million were affected and 61.5 per cent of Ebola victims survived the disease. The record is bettered by Uganda, which in 2007 had 149 cases and 37 deaths (25 per cent fatality) and Cote d’ Ivoire that had one case and no death in 1994.

Since the outbreak of the disease in four West African countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, late December 2013 and this year, the WHO, as of August 22, said that 2615 cases and 1427 deaths (54.57 per cent fatality) have been recorded.

The breakdown of the figures is as follows:

* Liberia—1082 cases, 624 deaths, 57.67 per cent fatality
* Sierra Leone—935 cases, 392 deaths, 41.93 per cent fatality
* Guinea— 607 cases, 406 deaths, 66.87 per cent fatality
* Nigeria— 13 cases, five deaths, 38.46 per cent fatality.

Nigeria is by far the most populous of these countries with a population of 167 million and yet recorded the least number of cases, an indication of the professional manner the government, health authorities and the citizenry handled the challenge.

The populations of the other countries are: Uganda (37 million), Cote d Ívoire (16 million), Guinea (10 million), Sierra Leone (six million) and Liberia (3.5 million), whose total of 73 million is about half of Nigeria’s population.

Don’t stigmatise discharged patients

Imploring all Lagosians not to stigmatise all cases and contacts that have been given a clean bill of health, Idris urged them to facilitate their re- integration into the society.

He cited the American doctor who was recently discharged by Emory Hospital, USA and how he was openly embraced by both the hospital staff and family members, “setting for us an example to follow in the integration process of discharged cases and contacts,” Idris said.

The Commissioner allayed fears of discharged patients coming down with the virus again saying that the chances are almost nil but does not mean that such patients could not be re-infected with another strain of the virus but not the particular virus that late Sawyer imported into the country.

“The process by which cases and indeed contacts are discharged is also in line with best practices, involving reviews by critical members of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre,” he added.
Further, he pointed out that a contact becomes infective only when symptoms appear-fever being a game changer.

“By and large, only symptomatic contacts are admitted. Asymptomatic contacts are admitted when the index of suspicion that they may be lost to follow up is high.

“Contacts are monitored twice daily for temperature changes and symptoms. On self-admission or evacuation of contacts for conducts of confirmatory test, their homes including areas of common use with co-tenants, offices and relevant general surfaces are decontaminated,” he said.

On other challenges, Idris said that rejection of febrile patients in hospitals without proper assessment may also increase stigma and deter self-reporting.

He explained that not everybody with fever or haemorrhage has come down with EVD. A situation where these cases are automatically referred to Mainland General Hospital is not good practice.

The commissioner appealed to medical practitioners in both public and private health facilities to commence the management of these cases using universal safety precautions and only refer them if there is an indication to do so.

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