The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tamunoiyoriari Sampson Parker says the contact tracing team has identified 178 persons that had contact with the late Dr. Iyke Enemuo, who died of Ebola virus in Port Harcourt on August 22.
The commissioner stated this yesterday during his daily media briefing to keep the public abreast with efforts of stake holders to tackle the Ebola scourge in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
According to him, 50 out of 178 have high risk exposure, stating that three persons have been moved to the Isolation centre in Eduoha, while late Dr. Enemuo’s wife, who was earlier moved to Lagos is stable and responding to treatment.
Parker, who said that the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital Mortuary, Samstel Clinic, Mandate Hotel, Good Heart Hospital and Dr. Iyke Enemuo’s residence have all be decontaminated, also added that people should not shy away from these places because they are now safe as a result of the decontamination.
He frowned against stigmatization of people who have contracted the virus, saying that contracting the virus is not a death sentence.
“All the people who presented themselves early for treatment in Lagos have all survived”, the commissioner said.
Parker warned church leaders and other religious organizations to desist from turning their backyards to hospital wards where they lay hands on people for spiritual healing, insisting that all febrile illnesses must be reported for investigation and prompt intervention.
He said the burial of all corpses which were deposited at the UPTH morgue at the same period with the late Enemuo must be carried out under the supervision of the state Ministry of Health, while movement of corpses around the state must be done with clearance from the ministry.
However, the Nigerian diplomat attached to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Olu Ibukun Koye, who escaped from quarantine in Lagos after testing positive to Ebola virus and travelled to Port Harcourt for treatment, an action that resulted in the death of Dr Iyke Enemuo, may face manslaughter charges.
This is coming on the heels of reports that the number of persons under surveillance in the state for Ebola Virus Disease has increased from 100 to 178.
According to sources, the issue of Koye (a primary contact of the index case, late Liberian Partick Sawyer), who defied instruction and left Lagos after being placed in the isolation unit, was discussed at the Federal Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday and that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation was directed to look into the Nigerian laws and see how he could be sanctioned for his action that resulted in the death of Enemuo.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has expressed shock over the inability of the authorities of the Port Harcourt International Airport to put measures in place to screen passengers entering the airport four days after the confirmation of the spread of Ebola virus in Rivers State.
The state Chairman of TUC, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said in a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday that not even temperature check device had been placed anywhere within the airport.
It will be recalled that the dreaded disease has claimed the life of one Dr. Iyke Enemuo, even as over 178 persons have been kept under observation to ascertain if they have the disease.
Describing the development as callous and irresponsible, Onuegbu urged authorities of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to ensure that passenger entering and moving out of the Port Harcourt Airport were checked.
This, according to Onuegbu, will help in efforts towards containing the Ebola virus in the state.
“The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Rivers State, is shocked that despite the confirmation of Ebola Virus Disease in Rivers State that the authorities of Port Harcourt International Airport have not put anything in place to check passengers entering and leaving the airport.
“Not even the temperature check device is in the airport. We view this as callous and irresponsible and immediately call on the authorities of FAAN, NCAA and all agencies in the Port Harcourt International Airport to immediately ensure that they check all passengers entering and leaving the airport,” Onuegbu stressed.
He pointed out that the TUC were of the view that the diplomat that imported the disease from Lagos might have been prevented from doing so if FAAN authorities at the airport had done what was expected of them.
The state TUC chairman, however, called on the ministers of health and aviation to ensure that such facilities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos to detect the disease were also put in place in the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Reacting to the TUC statement, FAAN Regional Manager, Mr. Henry Anyanwu, said yesterday that the Ebola virus screening device would be ready within the next two days.
“Something is being done about the Ebola disease. The issue of checking the Ebola disease is a joint responsibility headed by the Federal Ministry of Health. They are the key agency at the airport.
“People in FAAN are just a backup. We have our medical team at the Port Harcourt Airport. I am sure that before the next two days or so, the necessary equipment will be put in place at the airport,” Anyanwu stated.
In another development, the United States health officials have said they are considering a trial test tomorrow of the recently launched Ebola vaccine in Nigeria, as they also prepare to test the vaccine in The Gambia and Mali in mid-September.
The US National Institutes of Health announced in a statement that it would launch the safety trial on the vaccine developed by the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline.
The testing is expected to start tomorrow with 20 volunteers to see if the virus is safe for use on humans.
The statement said in part, “The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated discussions with Ministry of Health officials in Nigeria about the prospects for conducting a Phase 1 safety study of the vaccine among healthy adults in that country. The pace of human safety testing for experimental Ebola vaccines has been expedited in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.”
Testing of the vaccine will be at NIH’s campus and involve a mixture that uses both the current Zaire strain and another strain, Sudan. In the second week of September, NIH and a British team will test that vaccine on 100 volunteers in the United Kingdom.
“Initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will begin next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“The early-stage trial will begin initial human testing of a vaccine co-developed by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults. Testing will take place at the NIH Clinical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland,” the NIH noted.
The study is the first of several Phase 1 clinical trials that will examine the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine and an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
According to the statement, these trials are conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola virus to determine if the vaccine is safe and induces an adequate immune response.
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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