• 160 now under surveillance in Port Harcourt
Yemi Adebowale in Lagos, Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and
By James Emejo
The Nigerian diplomat attached to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Olubukun 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 the doctor who treated him (Iyke Enemuo) may face manslaughter charges.
This is coming on the heels of report that the number of persons under surveillance in the state for Ebola Virus Disease has increased from 100 to 160.
Sources told THISDAY that the issue of Koye (a primary contact of the index case, late Liberian Partick Sawyer) who defied instruction not to leave 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 Mohammed Adoki 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.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Samson Parker while giving an update on the EVD in the state, after recording its first death from Ebola last week Friday, disclosed that the surveillance list had increased to 160.
He said the state’s contact tracing team was working seriously to make sure that the spread of the EVD was contained in the state.
Parker also gave further insight into how the dreaded EVD crept into the state and claimed its first victim.
He said the late Enemuo was aware that Koye, whom he treated, had evaded the surveillance team in Lagos to travel to Port Harcourt.
Parker said: “He (Koye) had received the late Dr. Patrick Sawyer in Lagos. Upon developing the symptom, he confided in a female colleague, called Lillian, who contacted the late Dr. Enemuo. It was after contact was established with Dr. Enemuo that Koye flew to Port Harcourt to see Dr. Enemuo.
"To conceal his movement, Koye sneaked out of the isolation unit where he was being observed and took a flight to Port Harcourt and switched of his phone so that he cannot be reached or traced should he answer a call.
“On arrival in Port Harcourt, Koye checked into a local hotel called Mandate Hotel, around Rumuokoro in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the city.”
The hotel, Parker said, was close to Enemuo's private clinic, Sam Steel Clinic.
Parker continued: “From what we have gathered so far, Dr. Enemuo, knowing full well that Koye was positive of the Ebola virus took some measure of precaution to protect himself while treating Koye. Knowing the enormity of what he was doing. Dr. Enemuo upon Koye’s departure for Lagos poured bleach all over the room that Koye slept in order to sanitise the place.
“Upon developing the Ebola symptom, Dr. Enemuo approached one of our colleagues for treatment at Green Heart Hospital, along Evo Road, in G.R.A. Dr. Enemuo did not tell the doctor that was treating him the truth. He merely told him that he had fever. He lied. He did not tell the doctor that was treating him his full story.
"But the doctor, a nice and conscientious professional suspected that Dr. Enemuo was either hiding something or was suffering from a strange ailment because he proved negative to malaria, fever and typhoid fever. To be sure of what he was doing, he spoke to other very experienced doctors about the strange case he was handling in his hospital.
“He even invited some of his colleagues to come over to his hospital to study Dr. Enemuo’s medical history. Of course, the news of the Ebola virus was everywhere, so, they were afraid to go. None of them showed up at the hospital where Dr. Enemuo was being treated. His condition continued to deteriorate and he eventually died and his body was taken to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.”
Parker said Koye had returned to Lagos where the surveillance group saw him and tested him of the EVD and that he had tested negative.
He said Koye neither disclosed to the people that he travelled to Port Harcourt nor that he had treated himself of the disease.
According to the commissioner, “When news got to Koye that the doctor that treated him in Port Harcourt had died, he collapsed. It was then he opened up and confessed that Dr. Enemuo had treated him when he travelled to Port Harcourt. He confessed that he sneaked out of Lagos to Port Harcourt”.
However, the authorities of the isolation centre in Lagos never disclosed to the public that an ebola positive patient had escaped from the centre when the incident occured. This information is only just coming to light following the death of a doctor in Port Harcourt.
AfDB earmarks $1m to fight virus…
Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to release $1million under its Emergency Relief Assistance programme to complement Nigeria's efforts at containing the deadly Ebola virus.
It said it would release an additional $60 million to be managed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen the Health System in the entire West Africa, a facility which it noted Nigeria could also benefit from.
The announcement came at a Dialogue Session with the International Development Partners (IDP) which was organised by the National Planning Commission (NPC) where the European Union (EU) also has assured that it would provide proactive measures against further breakage of the Ebola virus (EVD) by developing the capacity of health workers.
It came as international development partners including the World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO), EU, African Development Bank (AfDB),Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and DFID also commended the government of Nigeria for its effort so far in containment and management of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Speaking in Abuja at the occasion, Minister, NPC, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman who presided over the dialogue session said the meeting was aimed at fashioning out desirable and workable solution in addressing the spread of the disease as well as solicit their intervention to compliment government's effort.
He noted that the Presidential Committee set up to contain the virus had identified some gaps in some priority areas needing intervention and support of the Development Partners, hence Nigeria would continue to seek for their support to effectively contain the menace.
He identified the priority areas requiring intervention to include procurement of additional body scanners for active surveillance, capacity building for health workers, infection control, hospital medical consumable and as well as public health promotion.
Meanwhile, Representative of WHO, Mr. Rui Vaz also commended the country for the efforts put in place by the leadership in the fight against the Ebola disease.
Also representative of the EU, Brion O'neil stressed that the union would support Nigeria to take proactive measures against further breakage of the EVD particularly in capacity building for Health workers.
Doing Democracy Movement Urge Jonathan to Stop TAN rally…
In a related development, a Rivers State-based non- governmental organization, Doing Democracy Movement yesterday wrote an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to cancel the planed rally by the Peoples Democratic Party slated for Port Harcourt tomorrow to checkmate the spread of EVD.
Said DDM: We have been made aware of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) South-South campaign rally to campaign for your second term, scheduled to hold at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt on Saturday.
“As the federal government and other relevant bodies like the World Health Organisation (WHO), Doctors without Borders, and the United States Embassy join hands with the state in combating and containing this outbreak in Rivers State, we are using this platform to plead with you and all concerned, to call off the planned campaign rally by TAN in Port Harcourt, in the interest of adhering to the advice of ‘avoiding body contacts’, which you know is inevitable if the rally is allowed to hold.”