Following the death of two victims of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Lagos, western Nigeria, the state government has ordered churches and Muslim prayer groups in the state to suspend all crusades and other programmes that will attract large gatherings to avoid spread of the disease.
At a news conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Lagos Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said the government had already written to churches and mosques to stop holding crusades and other big programmes that would attract large crowds.
According to him, large gathering should be avoided at this period until further notice, while religious groups in different parts of the state should put on hold any crusade, congress or convention in the meantime.
He also said more volunteers were urgently needed to join the crusade to defeat Ebola as the situation is extremely dire.
“More volunteers are needed urgently, especially contact trackers, case management personnel, especially those with experience and expertise in infectious disease control, such as doctors, nurses, environmental health workers and so on,” he said.
Idris assured that government would guarantee the safety of doctors and others that would volunteer and would give them life insurance cover.
The commissioner also disclosed that two of the patients with EVD were in critical condition at the Isolation centre where they were being treated, resulting in the need for more intensive health attention and care to save their lives.
Idris added that 27 new contacts that had primary contact with those the eight people who had primary contact with Patrick Sawyer, the deceased Liberian, had been established and that more contacts were still being sought for.
“Based on contact tracing arising from the index case that came into the country from Liberia, a total of 70 persons were monitored. Of these, eight have been admitted and their blood samples taken.
“Results of five out of the eight blood samples taken have been received with four testing positive while the fifth person was negative. Results of three samples are outstanding. Regrettably, one of the eight admitted died at 2:06 p.m., thus bringing deaths recorded on account of the virus outbreak to two.”
Idris appealed to businessmen and women engaged in sale of materials and equipment needed for the management of Ebola not to cash in on this unfortunate situation to hike their prices.
He called for vigilance as human beings could only contract the disease through physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from Ebola virus through body fluid, such as blood, urine, stool, saliva, breast milk, among others.
Meanwhile, with hundreds of patients in Africa suffering the devastating effects of Ebola, health experts are scrambling to determine which drugs might offer the best experimental treatment, and researchers are being pressed by government officials to speed up their work, reports Reuters.
Three treatments have shown especially promising results in monkeys, the researchers said. One, produced by tiny California biotech Mapp Biopharmaceutical, gained international prominence this week when it was given to two U.S. aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and have since shown signs of improvement.
Others are from Vancouver-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and privately-held Profectus BioSciences, of Tarrytown, NY.
On Wednesday the World Health Organization said it would discuss next week the ethics of using Ebola drugs that have never been cleared for human use, wary of a long history of medicines being tested on people who were never properly informed of the risks. In the countries hardest hit by Ebola, suspicion of foreign medical workers is already widespread.
But the health minister of Nigeria, Onyenbuchi Chukwu, told reporters this week that he had asked U.S. health officials about access to experimental Ebola therapies. U.S. drugmakers are fielding questions from government officials about their ability to supply treatments in sufficient quantities should the request come.
“For years we’ve told the government you need to invest a little bit of money in this,” said Profectus chief scientific officer John Eldridge. “And now it’s, ‘Oh my God, how fast can you make this?’”
Officials at Mapp and Tekmira would not comment on efforts to make their treatments available in response to the outbreak.