Though there is yet no sign of Ebola in Rivers state, the state government has declared that it is ready for any possible outbreak of the dreaded disease.
The State Director, Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr. Nnanna Onyekwere who said this at an Interministerial meeting in Port Harcourt last Friday stated that though the Contact, Tracing and Surveillance Committee set up by the Rivers State Government has received several calls, he noted that in all cases so far investigated, none has shown any sign of Ebola.
Onyekwere, said, Rapid Response Drill (teams) have been set up in the state capital and the 23 local government areas, adding that four ambulances have also been committed for Ebola calls with special phone numbers dedicated for quick contact with members of the public.
He named the General Hospital, Elele-Alumini in Ikwerre Local Government Area as the Isolation zone in the state while the Primary Health Centre, Oduoha in Emohua Local Government Area, is the Quarantine Zone.
The director, who is the State Coordinator on Ebola, explained that work has reached advanced stages to get the Isolation zone ready as incineration facilities, and water are soon to be installed.
Onyekwere, who was explaining the readiness of the state to combat the scourge presently ravaging Lagos, and some other states in the country, said Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) are expected to arrive the state soon, and solicited for volunteers to manage any potential patients in the state.
He disclosed that the state does not have any laboratory for Ebola test but that the University of Port Harcourt has a machine, adding that the machine needed to be calibrated and the staff trained to effectively man the facility.
The Tide gathered that only four laboratories for Ebola test are present in country.
They are: the University College, Ibadan, National Centre for Disease Control, Asokoro, Abuja, Redeemers University as well as Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Similarly, five other Ebola patients in Nigeria have almost fully recovered, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said.
The minister spoke on Saturday while breaking the good news that the first Nigerian confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus had been discharged after full recovery.
Chukwu, who briefed newsmen in Lagos, said the patient was discharged “after conclusive discharge protocols’’, adding that she could go home to resume her normal life.
The female doctor had attended to the Liberian, Mr Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease to Nigeria.
The minister however debunked reports that the discharged female doctor’s medical name was given as Dr. Adadevor.
He said five other Ebola patients have almost fully recovered.
Chukwu said the number of confirmed Ebola cases had risen to 12.
Four of the cases, including the index case, Patrick Sawyer, have passed on while 189 persons are under surveillance in Lagos, and six in Enugu.
The minister said all the persons under surveillance were secondary contacts.
“Additional equipment has also been made available to the new isolating ward by the Federal Government’’, he said.
The minister also said that the Nano Silver drug which was made available to the Emergency Operations Centre in Lagos on Aug. 14, did not meet basic research requirements.
“As soon as any of the experimental drugs is cleared by the National Health Research Ethics Committee and is made available, we shall include it in the treatment regimen subject to the informed consent of the patient.’’
The minister also debunked speculations that there are Ebola cases in Imo, Abia and Cross River States, adding that the case of the disease in Kwara was still under investigation.
“The mother of the child in Kwara tested negative and we are still investigating the child. Also, the corpse in Anambra was embalmed and we are awaiting result of the test.
“All the mortuary attendants who had contact with the corpse tested negative, so there is no need to panic’’, he said.
On the suspension of resident doctors’ training by the Federal Government, Chukwu said there had been problems with the training which also informed the ongoing doctors’ strike.
According to the minister, the suspension is with all Federal Government hospitals, adding that states’ teaching hospitals were not affected.
Chukwu said the paperwork for insurance package for volunteers was ongoing, adding that the Lagos State Government had commenced implementation of insurance package for health workers.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said he will meet private hospitals’ owners and directors this week over reports that some private hospitals are refusing to treat patients suffering from malaria or fever for fear of contracting the Ebola Virus Disease.
Chukwu, who stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, however attributed the action to inadequate information on the nature and mode of spread of the disease, which had been causing of panic among Nigerians..
“Part of the reason we want to meet with them is due to reports that the private hospitals were turning back patients suffering from Fever and malaria for fear of contracting Ebola Virus Disease through them.”
He said with proper education, the country would be able to contain the spread of the disease.
The minister, therefore, urged the media to cross check and confirm from him, any rumoured case of Ebola anywhere in the country before going to the press in order to reduce fear and panic.
On the issue of fake hand sanitizers and gloves allegedly being sold to unsuspecting members of the public, the minister said the ministry of health had directed the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control to begin investigation and bring all the culprits to book.
He said, “NAFDAC will continue to monitor but we strongly believe that the fake versions of hand sanitizers were being produced locally by some people and sell to innocent people.
“NAFDAC will continue to do their job and we hope that very soon, those perpetrating the crime will be arrested and prosecuted.”
In another development, Cameroon has shut its sea border with Nigeria possibly as a precautionary step to check the spread of the dreaded Ebola virus.
Our correspondent observed on Saturday at the Nigeria Inland Waterways Jetty in Calabar, Cross River State, that stranded passengers were unable to get vessel to ferry them to Cameroon.
Authorities of the NIWA jetty refused to comment on the development.
However, the passengers, who wore disappointing looks on their faces, were seen discussing in clusters.
Those who volunteered to speak after much pressure said they were instructed by security personnel at the Inland Waterways not to speak to the press about the development.
One of them, Mr. Anthony Obi, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently intervene, noting that the development was going to negatively affect Nigerian traders doing business in Cameroon.
He suggested that the Federal Government should mount an equipped health post along the waterways.
The stranded passenger said such measure would go a long way to assuring the government of Cameroon on the health status of intending Nigerian passengers.
Obi, who could not continue with his trip to Cameroon, had no option than to return back to his Anambra home state.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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