The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Federal Government have shut down the hospital, First Consultants Medical Centre Limited, Ikoyi Road, Obalende, Lagos, where the first victim died as part of measures to prevent the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
They have also begun testing of all passengers on the same flight with the first Ebola virus victim in Nigeria who died on Friday in a Lagos hospital. Already, the WHO African Region has opened a sub-regional outbreak coordination centre in Conakry, Guinea.
It is feared that all the over 200 passengers on board are exposed to the deadly virus and may continue to spread the disease if they are not quarantined.
First Consultants Medical Centre Limited in a statement yesterday by the Chief Consultant/Medical Director, Dr. B. N. Ohiaeri, and the Senior Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist, Dr. A. S. Adadevoh, said: “In keeping with WHO guidelines, the hospital is shut down briefly as full decontamination exercise is currently in progress. The reopening of the hospital will also be in accordance with WHO guidelines.
“In conclusion, working with the state, federal and international agencies, we were able to identify and confirm the diagnosis of the Ebola Virus Disease.
“We hope that by our action of preventing this gentleman from being extracted from our hospital and traveling to Calabar we have been able to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria.
“The board and management of the hospital wish to thank all our staff members for their diligence and professionalism.”
According to the statement, the victim, was a senior diplomat with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), from Liberia, who arrived in Nigeria to attend the ECOWAS Convention in Calabar, Cross River State.
The hospital said working jointly with the state, federal agencies and international agencies, they were able to obtain the confirmation of Ebola virus disease (Zaire strain) from the WHO regional centre laboratory in Senegal, Redeemers University laboratory in Ogun State, and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, and that the gentleman subsequently died on July 25, 2014, at 6:50 a.m.
The statement reads: “A 40-year-old gentleman came into the hospital with symptoms suggestive of malaria (fever, headache, extreme weakness) on Sunday night (20th July 2014).
“He was fully conscious and gave us his clinical history and told us he was a senior diplomat from Liberia. Laboratory investigations confirmed malaria whilst other tests for HIV, hepatitis B and C were negative. He was admitted and treatment commenced.
“However, due to the fact that he was not responding to treatment but rather was developing haemorrhagic symptoms we further questioned him. He denied having been in contact with any persons with Ebola virus disease at home, in any hospital or at any burial. In spite of this denial we immediately decided to do the following:
“To conduct further tests for possible infectious haemorrhagic disease, especially Ebola virus diseases, based on the fact that he was a Liberian citizen and the recent outbreak of the disease in that country.
“We immediately isolated/quarantined the patient, commenced barrier nursing and simultaneously contacted the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Health to enquire where further laboratory tests could be performed as we had a high index of suspicion of a possible Ebola virus disease.
“We refused for him to be let out of the hospital in spite of intensive pressure, as we were told that he was a senior ECOWAS official and had an important role to play at the ECOWAS convention in Calabar, Cross River State.
“Initial test results from LUTH laboratory indicated a signal of possible Ebola virus disease, but required confirmation.
“We then took the further step of reaching out to senior officials in the office of the Secretary of Health of the United States of America who promptly assisted us with contacts at the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO Regional Laboratory Centre in Senegal… ”
According to reports, the fact that the traveller from Liberia could board an international flight also raised new fears that other passengers could take the disease beyond Africa due to weak inspection of passengers and the fact Ebola’s symptoms are similar to other diseases.
Officials in the country of Togo, where the sick man’s flight had a stopover, also went on high alert after learning Ebola could possibly have spread to a fifth country.
Also, in response to the first Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria and to answer questions and have feedback from Nigerians, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has opened special email and twitter accounts,
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, and Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Abdulsalami Nasidi, have reassured Nigerians that the country has the capacity to control the disease.
Also, there is renewed promise for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) vaccine as researchers have found a way to ‘neutralize’ the antibodies.