There was panic in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, as the state government confirmed the death of a medical doctor from Ebola virus.
Some of the residents, who rushed to the big supermarkets to procure hand sanitisers were frustrated as attendants told them they have run out of the product.
Commissioner of Health, Dr Sampson Parker, who confirmed this yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, said the late Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo died last Friday from suspected Ebola virus, adding that a test on his corpse released on Wednesday confirmed that the deceased died from the virus.
He said the late Enemuo met a staff of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at a hotel in the D/Line Area of Port Harcourt, noting that the ECOWAS staff was on the team of those that received the index case, late Patrick Sawyer.
The Tide gathered that Dr Ikechukwu Enemuo, until his death, practised as a director of Sam Steel Clinic, on the East-West Road axis of Rumuokoro, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
According to the commissioner, one week after the ECOWAS staff left Port Harcourt, the late Enemuo took ill and was admitted at Good Heart Hospital, Evo Road, GRA, Port Harcourt, after he had been rejected by doctors at Prime Medical Centre, Rumuogba, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Sources alleged that the hotel and both health facilities of Dr Enemuo and the hospital where he was treated before his death have been sealed by the government to check the spread of the virus.
The commissioner, said the wife of late Dr Enemuo, who is also a doctor, had fallen sick and had been quarantined, adding that about 100 persons who had primary or secondary contact with the late Dr Enemuo had been placed on watch list.
While appealing to residents of the state not to panic, the commissioner said adequate measures were in place to check the spread of the disease.
The diplomat, who caused his death was said to have sneaked out of where he was quarantined in Lagos State to get treatment at Sam Steel’s Hospital in Rivers State.
But this was after he had stayed in one of the hotels in Port Harcourt where the doctor ignorantly treated him.
Sam-Enemuo’s wife, who is said to have a three-month-old baby, is also reported to be down with symptoms of the EVD.
According to Parker, both mother and baby have been quarantined in Port Harcourt, while the hospitals and hotel involved in the EVD spread have been decontaminated.
He advised members of the public to call these numbers: 0816773393 and 0703632176 to report any suspected case of EVD.
“People are now being scanned before they are allowed entrance into some public hospitals, while experts from Emory University Hospital in the United States of America are on ground to train Rivers State health officials on how to tackle the outbreak,” he said.
His words: “My friends, brothers and sisters. The Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has directed me to make this solemn announcement to you.
“And it is with a heavy heart that I announce to you that the Ebola virus has claimed its first victim in Rivers State. Dr. Iyke Sam Enemuo died last Friday, August 22, 2014 as a result of what was suspected to be Ebola virus disease.
“The Rivers State Ministry of Health, on becoming aware of the conditions of his death, immediately commenced investigations and contact tracing.
“As at today, about 100 contacts from a hotel, patients of Dr. Enemuo and patients of the hospital where the late Enemuo was treated until his demise, have been identified and restricted in Rivers State.
“The locations are being decontaminated. I had promised to be open and candid with the public on our efforts to tackle the Ebola virus.
“From our investigations, some facts have emerged. A staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the team that received late Dr. Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American diplomat who died of Ebola haemorrhagic disease in Lagos, Nigeria made a trip to Port Harcourt where he checked into a hotel and met with Dr. Iyke Sam Enemuo.
“About a week after his departure, Dr. Iyke Enemuo took ill and was rushed to a hospital where he presented with symptoms of fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.
“In the course of treatment, the managing physician became suspicious and took samples for investigation. A few days after, Dr. Iyke Enemuo died on August 22, 2014. His body was deposited at a mortuary in Port Harcourt.
“Dr. Iyke Enemuo’s widow, who is also a medical doctor and who cared for him during his illness, has taken ill. She is being quarantined.
“A few hours ago, results of the test carried out on samples taken from Dr. Enemuo came back and was positive of Ebola Viral disease.
“The diplomat, who was seen by late Dr. Iyke Enemuo is alive and well. I urge every Rivers State citizen and resident to remain calm and go about their normal businesses. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and avoid unnecessary body contacts till further notice.
“The Government of Rivers State is doing everything possible to contain the effects and spread of the Ebola virus. We have all the material and human resources we need to fight and defeat the deadly virus.
“Officials of the Federal Ministry of Health and other international agencies are already here working with the state ministry of health. Together, I believe we can contain the Ebola virus.
“I shall continue to update you as more information become available. Thank you, stay safe and God bless.”
However, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, yesterday confirmed that a medical doctor in Rivers State had died from the EVD.
Chukwu said that chief among information provided by the Rivers State Government were the name of the doctor who died as a result of the EVD infection, the name of his hospital and the details of the decontamination of the hotel where the diplomat and ECOWAS staff who infected him stayed while in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He gave the doctor’s name as Iyke Sam-Enemuo while his hospital, Sam Steel Clinic, is on the East-West Road at Rumuokoro.
Chukwu told a news conference in Abuja that “this primary contact of Sawyer’s evaded our surveillance team in the last week of July 2014 and travelled out of Lagos to Port Harcourt.
“He consulted with a doctor and was apparently treated for some symptoms.
“After four days, following a manhunt for him, he returned to Lagos, by which time he was found to be without symptoms.
“This case would have been of no further interest since he had completed the 21 days of surveillance without any issue, but for the fact that the doctor who treated him died last Friday, August 22.
“Following the report of this death by the doctor’s widow the next day, the case had been thoroughly investigated and laboratory analysis showed that this doctor died of Ebola.”
The minister said the number of deaths arising from Ebola in Nigeria was now six.
He said: “Lagos had 13 cases, seven were treated and discharged.”
Chukwu said because the widow was symptomatic, she had been quarantined pending the outcome of laboratory tests.
He said as a result, several contacts had been traced, registered and placed under surveillance.
The minister said an Incident Management Committee had already deployed a team to Port Harcourt to work with the health authorities.
Chukwu stressed that just like the situation was effectively managed in Lagos and Enugu, the situation in Port Harcourt would also be managed.
He appealed to all contacts under surveillance to abide by the advice given to them by the Incident Management Committee.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, urged Nigerians to cooperate with the authority in combating the disease.
Maku said: “We can only defeat the disease with citizens’ cooperation. We appeal to those under surveillance to please abide by the rule. Do not travel.”
Maku urged Nigerians not to relent in observing and maintaining good hygiene practices, stressing that it was disastrous to assume that the disease had been contained so one would not contract it again.
He urged the media to re-enforce the awareness of the disease as it was a continuous fight and that nobody should take hygiene practices for granted.
He added: “Dealing with an epidemic has to do with education. A lot of the work has to do with the media.”
Meanwhile, Malls and Supermarkets in Port Harcourt have run out of stock of hand sanitizer product following its rush as it has been adduced to curb the contact of the Ebola Virus.
The Tide visited some Malls in Port Harcourt City and learnt that the rush had lasted between the last five days.
At the Port Harcourt Mall, a Spar Shopping complex, it was gathered that the product which was in large quantity got out of stock at the early hours of yesterday morning with more quest for it by customers and buyers.
One of the sales personnel at the mall said last Wednesday “the product just finished this morning. We had it in cartons but between Tuesday and this morning, the rush for it was too much and it has finished”.
At the Park ‘n’ Shop, the sales personnel who also confirmed the rush said “the quest for it now is unusual. Ours finished on Monday but we have ordered for it from Lagos and I believe that before today runs out it will arrive”.
The hand sanitizer, an earlier product of low patronage has now become an essential commodity and supplied even by private individuals resulting to a huge business for suppliers all in the bid to avoid the contact of the Ebola Virus as it has been said to have permeated the city of Port Harcourt.
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