• Senate urges FG to be proactive, advocates sustained awareness • Envoy: British govt will support FG to curb spread of virus
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, Damilola Oyedele in Abuja, Hammed Shittu in Ilorin and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Government on Tuesday said two suspected cases of monkey pox victims had been recorded in the state.
The state government said the victims, who were discovered in Okemesi Ekiti, a border town with Osun State in Ekiti West Local Government Area had been quarantined, while their blood samples had been taken to Abuja for laboratory tests.
However, it was different story in Enugu State as tension gripped residents following an unconfirmed case of the dreaded monkey pox disease at the State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu.
A female patient at the hospital was said to have shown signs of the disease as some strange pox were seen all over her face.
The discovery made other patients to panic as they feared the disease might have finally entered the state.
The state government has however swiftly denied that the disease has arrived the state.
The Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr Okechukwu Ossai, said the case remained a suspected one as it was not confirmed.
“For now, it’s a suspected case, it’s not been confirmed. But as I speak, there are many things pointing to the negative in her system as far as monkey pox disease is concerned,” Ossai said.
He, however, could not confirm whether the patient has been quarantined pending final confirmation of the actual problem with her, adding that the state has taken steps to forestall such outbreak in the state.
Also, the authorities of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu have denied the outbreak of monkey pox in the hospital in view of the rumours in town.
The hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Cyril Keleze, said no such case has been reported in the hospital noting that Consultants in the hospital were still on strike which has equally affected the resumption of the Resident Doctors since they shelved their industrial action.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin, could not be reached for his reaction.
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health, state governments, local governments and community-based organisations to be proactive in containing the spread of the monkey pox diseases.It also called for sustained enlightenment and education of citizens on efforts to take to reduce exposure to the virus.
The Senate’s resolution followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) who expressed worry that the unavailability of vaccines or specific treatment for the virus, has caused panic among Nigerians.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers APC), said it was necessary that all available machinery and resources of the government be deployed so that the current cases of monkey pox do not become an epidemic.
Abe added that Nigeria, in recent years, has had to deal with ebola, lassa fever and now monkey pox, all of which are linked to poor sanitary conditions and uncontrolled contact with animals.
Senator Emmanuel Paulkner (Bayelsa PDP) expressed worry at the spread of the virus.
“No sooner an incident was recorded in Rivers State, which is closest to Bayelsa, incidents are being reported in Lagos. This shows there is need for the agencies to work together,“ Paulkner said.
The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, yesterday said the British government would support the federal government in its efforts to curb the spread of the recent outbreak of monkey pox disease in the country.
Beaufils disclosed this in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital during his visit to the office of the state chapter of International Federation of Women Lawyers.
According to him, “This outbreak is a very serious concern and the British Government is supporting the government of Nigeria in addressing health, education and basic services in general and to ensure that the health of the population here goes from strength to strength.”
He said: “We are monitoring the situation very closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and we will be reviving our support as and when we go.
“We will be monitoring the situation closely and we provide through the Department for International Development about 400million pounds in aids to Nigeria every year in support of poverty reduction, health and education.
“Our support is wide, broad and deep and of-course we cannot respond to every priority here and I hope the government itself, as well as the state governments will take responsibility and invest in health solutions to protect their people.”
On the 2019 general election in the country, the British envoy said: “It is possible to have woman president,” adding that, “Absolutely (it is possible for Nigeria to have a female president.) I see no reason why not.”
He said: “I think girls ought to have that ambition. I think the moral model there are for young girls, the better. I hope to see many more women governors and ultimately a woman president. I think it will be a very good thing for the country.
“A woman is just as able as a man. If it is going to happen in 2019, possibly not, because there are not got many women in very senior positions right now that are vying for the presidency, I do not think. But of course it should be possible.”