Despite its attempt to take proactive steps at tackling any outbreak of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Delta State Government says there is no reported case of an outbreak yet.
The state government has however set up Special Isolation Wards within seven hospitals for suspected cases of the disease in the State. The seven hospitals have been designated as referral and Special Care Centres.
The hospitals are Warri Central Hospitals, Ughelli Central Hospital, Sapele Central Hospital and Agbor Central Hospital. Others are Oleh Central Hospital, Eku Baptist Government Hospital and Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara.
Also, Special open cremation centres for dead infected persons have been created in parts of the state for open cremation at the designated special isolation hospitals.
Briefing the press at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information Asaba on Thursday, August 07, 2014, the Committee on Inter-Ministerial Ebola Virus Outbreak Preparedness and Response, disclosed that the Ebola Virus which has claimed 932 deaths in a total of 1,203 reported cases, has not yet been reported in the State.
The Health Commissioner, Dr. Joseph Otumara who is the chairman of the Committee stated that the State Government is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that any suspected case is promptly contained, having put into operation activities and interventions which include a stakeholders committee chaired by the State Governor, a technical working group and a meeting of relevant stakeholders like traditional rulers and owners of private health institutions.
“In order to avoid the loss of lives and reduce the economic impact of a possible outbreak, coupled with the fact that Nigerians in general and Deltans in particular are widely travelled, therefore, the Delta State Government has put into operation intervention measures in the State”, he explained.
He further disclosed that trained Physicians have been placed at the Asaba and Warri airports while efforts are also on to check and curtail movement of people coming in from across the country and outside countries for religious Congregational activities.
Dr. Otumara spoke in the company of other members of the Committee which include, Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Monitoring Dr. Rukevwe Ogumba, Functioning Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Omotsola Michael.
While describing EVD as “Category A Biological Warfare”, he revealed that the early stages of the Ebola Virus disease is present with non-specific symptoms, such as sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat and later symptoms, warning people to avoid touching an infected person or their fluids, sweat, blood, vomits, urine, faeces or diarrhoea.
The Health Commissioner stated that the transmission of the disease to human is known to include uncooked infected fruit, bats and bush meat, physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola Virus or their body fluids – body sweat of infected person, blood, semen, saliva,, faeces, urine, breast milk among others.
He therefore advised people to promptly report all suspected cases to designated hospitals or contact the following telephone numbers: 08037857479, 08063927202, 07037120510, 08037438829 or 32581 SMS, even as he charged health workers to observe practical universal precautions, measure and standard.
The commissioner reiterated that the disease can still be spread by someone who has recovered from the disease to their partner through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery, saying that for this reason it is important for men to avoid sexual intercourse for the specified number of weeks after recovery.
Speaking in the same vein, the Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah, stated that the State Government is doing its best to stem what happened in Lagos from happening in Delta State, saying that adequate awareness was being created to educate the residents of the State of the Ebola Virus disease, how it can be prevented from spreading, as there is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease.
Another member of the committee, Mrs Felicia Adum (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, revealed that Special open cremation centres for dead infected persons have been created in parts of the state for open cremation at the designated special isolation hospitals.
The cremation, according to her are to be handled by special cremation officials, adding that in a bid to also meet certain traditional family demands, ashes from the cremation could be given to the deceased family for proper burial rites.
In his contribution, Delta State Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Charles Ofili said that training has been planned for all health workers in the state from both the government and private hospitals in barrier nursing to help tackle any outbreak, adding that some Special Training Centres have been established in hospitals across the three senatorial districts of the state.
He said that although the state government had some protective gears in stock and propositioned protective equipments for health workers, there are moves to procure more, considering the spate of spread of the new and deadly virus.
One of the speakers however enthused that the outbreak of Ebola Virus may have helped in conserving our bio- diversity, hence it is introduced into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as bats, monkeys and apes.