by Segun Lawal
The entry of Ebola into Rivers is beginning to look like it would be a more serious outbreak than that of Lagos. And the Rivers state government is aware of this fact.
In a frightening admission, the Rivers health commissioner, Samson Parker, disclosed on Sunday that the late Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo whose unprofessional conduct in secretly treating an ECOWAS official, Olu Koye, led to his eventual death came in contact with at least 200 people before he died of the virus. Out of that number, 60 have still not been found.
The commissioner also disclosed to journalists in Port Harcourt on Sunday that about 50 high risk contacts among those who had primary contact with Dr Enemuo have been identified, and out of that number, 3 have been moved to the treatment centre at Edoha community in Emohua local government area of the state.
The three people include two staff of his hospital, Sam-Steel Clinic, and a staff of the Good Heart Hospital, where he died.
So what is the government doing about it?
First, there’s now a ban by the state government on the movement of corpses within and outside the state without death certificates and explanations on the cause of such deaths from the Ministry of Health. The government has directed the police and even mortuary attendants to demand such documents from ambulances conveying corpses in the state. Victims of Ebola are most infectious right after death, making corpses a major health risk
The state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, is also scheduled to meet with leaders of churches in the state, while a meeting with traditional rulers will hold on Tuesday. Gov. Amaechi is however in Owerri, the Imo capital at the moment for a lecture organised by the Governors’ Forum of his party, the APC and it is unclear if the meeting with church leaders will go on as planned.
Parker is however concerned that due to the constant news relating to the Ebola outbreak in Rivers, several people who came in contact with the victim and who may be infected are not coming up.
He said: “…because a lot of the news, stigma, and all the rest, these persons are not coming up; we are still on them. In fact, we are concentrating on these names that we have found, and still going for new ones. Every day, it improves; it is getting better by the day.
“We now have three persons at the treatment centre at Edoha; a pharmacist at Sam-Steel Hospital and doctor that worked with Dr Enemuo at that Sam-Steel Hospital, and also a lady that was at the Good Heart Hospital while Dr Enemuo was there. However, they have not been confirmed; we are waiting for the result of the investigation. Today, we should have them. Also, let me quickly tell you that Mrs Enemuo is in a stable condition in Lagos. I am telling you these so that people will know that this is not a death sentence and come out.”
The commissioner advised worship centres against maintaining admission wards in the premises, as well as laying hands on people who may have had contact with Enemuo, and appealed to all those who had contacts with the late doctor or visited Sam-Steel Clinic, Good Heart Hospital and Mandate Garden Hotels to report to the Ministry of Health for checks.
Parker said, “At this point, I must tell you that most of them that came up early survived; only the ones that hid, going from one church to the other until they deteoriated so much that passed on. We must let the public know that anyone who had primary or secondary contact with Dr Enemuo or the clinics and hotel should voluntarily come out and contact us. It doesn’t mean that you are infested; all we need to do is just to observe you, and if there is anything you let us know.
“The chances of survival are very high. None of those that came up in Lagos had issues; most of them were cleared. It is important the churches don’t keep admission wards in their churches; some of them are running to churches and groups of them are laying hands on them without knowing.”