61 people placed under observation by the Nigerian Authority for Possible Ebola infection ave been cleared and are not in any risk of contracting the disease. They were cleared after 21 days since they had primary or secondary contact with the Liberian Patrick Sawyer.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Sunday assured Lagosians of the resolve of his administration to contain the spread, overcome and defeat the deadly Ebola Virus which was imported into the State early this month by the now late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer.
In a Statewide broadcast, Governor Fashola said the resolve was based on the courage so far shown by the first set of health workers at the State and Federal levels as well as the leadership of the State and Federal Ministries of Health with the support of the Government’s international partners.
He said the resolve is also reinforced by the encouraging reports that emanate daily from the isolation wards about those who are receiving treatment and those under surveillance pointing out that while 61 persons who have been under observation in the last 21 days have been discharged, there is a report that a confirmed victim of the disease has fully recovered.
Debunking allegations that victims are being neglected or that a useful drug or vaccine is being rejected or that there is a shortage of fund as untrue, Fashola said, “What is true is that we should perhaps never have been in this situation, but we are now in it. What is true is that the Ebola virus did not break out from Nigeria. It was imported into Nigeria”.
“What is true is that we have followed all the contacts that we know who have had primary and secondary contacts with the patient who imported the virus into our State or with people who had contact with him”, he said adding that because the Government had to react to an unexpected situation, it had to react in a proper and methodical way according to acceptable global health standards.
According to the Governor, “My view of the fact that we are gaining control is informed by verifiable facts that I receive daily from our health workers that all the cases of those who have either unfortunately died or those who are sick and those who are contacts under surveillance are directly traceable to the imported case”.
Fashola told Lagos residents that contrary to the rumour that it lacks the resources to tackle the sudden challenge posed by the virus, the State has enough resources to fund everything that is needed adding that the House of Assembly has also approved a request for any needed help.
Noting that the news of the full recovery of the confirmed victim was a reinforcement of the advice from the experts that the Ebola virus infection is not an automatic death sentence, the Governor declared, “This is encouraging news from which our containment strategy can profit greatly”, adding that the State has no case of unknown origin which could raise the risk of an epidemic.
He paid glowing tribute to the first set of health workers at the State and Federal levels who, according to him, “stood up to be counted” as well as the leadership demonstrated by the State and Federal Ministries of Health with the support of international partners.
“In spite of fear, they stood up to be counted at a time of grave danger. We salute their courage, professionalism, patriotism and humanitarian disposition. They are the heroes and heroines that we have looked for for a long time. I cannot thank them enough”, the Governor said, adding that what they need now is encouragement and support to gain even stronger control of the situation.
Fashola expressed joy that in the last one week, the response of the State to the sudden challenge has become a lot better than when the news first broke while the capacity to cope with it is increasing daily adding that although some lives have unfortunately been lost, the State is not yet at an epidemic stage of the disease and Government is determined to do everything not to get to that stage.
According to the Governor, this has been made possible with the advice of the technical partners such as the World Health Organization, the Centre for Disease Control and the Medecins Sans Frontier who, according to him, “have tracked the Ebola virus and studied it for decades”.
While assuring that Government is doing everything to ensure the safety of the workers and give them confidence to continue their work, Fashola appealed to Lagosians not to do anything to distract them or de-motivate them adding that what the workers do not need are rumours and the distractions that such rumours can bring with them”.
The Governor, who acknowledged the concerns and anxiety of friends and relatives of sick victims, assured them of the concerted efforts of Government also adding that the fact that they expect special care for their loved ones is both understandable and expected of them as friends and relatives.
“I assure you that they are receiving the best care that the experts have recommended to us, given the circumstances: because they say that this is the best way to proceed especially because experienced personnel in Ebola containment and management have always been a challenge”, the Governor said.
He called for additional medical personnel “who are willing to volunteer to join hands with those on the frontline”, adding, however, that the experts have cautioned that those who signed up cannot immediately start to participate in the isolation ward where sick people are being treated no matter how qualified and experienced they are. “They must undergo a few days of training by our international body of advisers and understand the protocol for operation in the isolation ward for their own safety and sustenance of the containment plan to stop the virus from spreading”, he said.
Giving “a word of caution and re-assessment” to those, he said, are seeking to make brisk business from the unfortunate situation to realize that “this is not our way”, Fashola expressed appreciation to those who are seeking to raise funds for the current battle against the virus but pointed out that the State “is not yet at the fund-raising stage and cannot foresee that eventually”.
“For now, the State has enough resources to fund everything that is needed. This is what your taxes can do in emergencies. Our House of Assembly has thankfully approved a request for any needed expenditure”, the Governor said adding that the Federal Government has shown “the appropriate level of concern about the national and global risk this poses and I am sure they will provide funds should we be unable to do so if we ask for it”.
On what Government has done and is doing in this direction, the Governor said aside providing information to the public on all state-owned media, with the commendable collaboration of their private counterparts as well as the social media, he has since Monday, August 11, 2014, commenced meetings on an almost daily basis with stakeholders in the society such as religious leaders, traditional rulers, market women and men as well as community development associations “to brief them and all of you to be cautious but not to panic”.
He said the combined team of State and Federal personnel and the international partners are also sharing information with the public and the Federal Government about the status of the patients and contacts in a transparent way adding, “We should all please listen to them. They are the ones who have the facts”.
Appealing to residents to stop all unhygienic habits such as urinating or defecating in the open as they are fluids that spread the disease, Fashola declared, “This new week, starting from today, and the next one will be the sharpest part of the curve that we expect to negotiate”.