EBOLA: MY DEAR FRIEND, DO NOT GO TO PORT HARCOURT by Toni Kan

EBOLA: MY DEAR FRIEND, DO NOT GO TO PORT HARCOURT by Toni Kan

My dear friend, do not go to Port harcourt.

Call me an alarmist, call me a drama queen but this is the truth; Port harcourt may be dangerous to your health and it’s all because of two mad men.

Ten days ago, over dinner with two British friends of mine, I told them how proud I was of our Ministry of Health and how they had managed to contain the Ebola virus.WHO-Logo

Puffing out my chest, I said I was proud to be a Nigerian where ‘something’ had ‘worked’ for once and the government had shown not just leadership but clarity.

Then five days later, news broke that a doctor had died in Port Harcourt while treating a diplomat who had made contact with Sawyer and suddenly, everything changed.

From just under 200 people under observation in Lagos, the number is set to get a lot higher in Portharcourt.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a “situation assessment” report on September 3, which is a very sobering analysis of a situation that may well have gotten out of hand.

Port Harcourt is now the problem; the epicentre of this tragic epidemic.

This is what we know thanks to WHO.

SAWYER WAS NOT THE ONLY MAD MAN. THE NIGERIAN DIPLOMAT IS MAD TOO

The president may have described the Liberian Patrick Sawyer as a mad man but what has become apparent is that the diplomat identified as Olu-Ibukun Koye who made contact with him is more insane than Sawyer. He fled Lagos for Portharcourt where he somehow managed to convince or induce a doctor to treat him in a hotel room.

The WHO report says: “Ebola virus was imported into Nigeria via an infected air traveller, who entered Lagos on 20 July and died 5 days later. One close contact of the Lagos case fled the city, where he was under quarantine, to seek treatment in Port Harcourt.

The close contact was treated, from 1 to 3 August, at a Port Harcourt hotel, by what would turn out to be the city’s index case. This case was a male physician who developed symptoms of weakness and fever on 11 August and died of Ebola on 22 August. His infection was confirmed on 27 August by the virology laboratory at Lagos University Teaching Hospital.”

GREED WILL KILL YOU FASTER THAN YOU KNOW.

How much didOlu-Ibukun Koye pay the physician, Dr. Iyke Samuel Enemuo who treated him? No one knows but it is clear that this was about greed and crass stupidity. Why would a doctor, with all the ebola news flying around, treat a patient in a hotel room? Why for Christ sake?

How much could he have been paid for him to endanger not just his own life but his wife’s, his new born baby, his patients, his church and family members who came for the naming ceremony, colleagues at the clinic where he worked, friends he hung out with and the two patients he operated upon.

The WHO report says those he put most at risk are: “family members and health care workers and patients at the facility where the index case was hospitalized. Church members who visited the index case while he was hospitalized are also considered at high risk.”

Can you just imagine him wiping off sweat while conducting the surgeries.

Let’s go back to the WHO report again:  “After onset of symptoms, on 11 August, and until 13 August, the physician continued to treat patients at his private clinic, and operated on at least two.”

What madness could be worse than this for a man trained as a physician to knowingly endanger scores of lives from family and friends to paying customers?

The WHO report continues: “On 13 August, his symptoms worsened; he stayed at home and was hospitalized on 16 August. Prior to hospitalization, the physician had numerous contacts with the community, as relatives and friends visited his home to celebrate the birth of a baby.

Once hospitalized, he again had numerous contacts with the community, as members of his church visited to perform a healing ritual said to involve the laying on of hands. During his 6 day period of hospitalization, he was attended by the majority of the hospital’s health care staff.

On 21 August, he was taken to an ultrasound clinic, where 2 physicians performed an abdominal scan. He died the next day.

The additional 2 confirmed cases are his wife, also a doctor, and a patient at the same hospital where he was treated. Additional staff at the hospital are undergoing tests.”

THE FG SHOULD CRIMINALISE INFECTIONS BY FLEEING PATIENTS

First, we heard of the nurse who fled and then this diplomat who has managed to extend the sphere of infections beyond the widest circle so far.

Isn’t it time for the federal government to enact a law that makes it a criminal offence for someone with ebola to knowingly take flight and spread the disease?

Shouldn’t the diplomat, who it appears has been given a clean bill of health, be arrested and tried for manslaughter or murder? Surely there must be a law.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT AND WHO DOING?

Well, it appears that after the finger pointing and recriminations, the Rivers state government has started to work in concert with other agencies.

The WHO report tells us that “The government, supported by WHO, UNICEF, and MSF (Doctors without Borders), has introduced a number of emergency measures. More will be introduced later this week.

An Ebola Emergency Operations Centre has been activated, with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A mobile laboratory, with RT-PCR diagnostic capacity, is set up and functional.

A 26-bed isolation facility for the management of Ebola cases is in place, with plans for possible expansion. WHO has 15 technical experts on the ground.

Twenty-one contact-tracing teams are at work; they have good training, provided by WHO, and adequate transportation, thanks to government support. Two decontamination teams are equipped and operational, as is a burial team.”

IF ALL THESE ARE IN PLACE WHY SHOULDN’T YOU GO TO PORT HARCOURT?

 Because it is not yet Uhuru.

As the WHO report says: “civil unrest, security issues, and public fear of Ebola create serious problems that could hamper response operations. Military escorts are needed for movements into the isolation and treatment centre.”

Efforts may well be underway to find and quarantine all those who made contact with Enemuo and his contacts but consider this; Dr. Enemuo treated patients, met with nurses, handled his new born baby, shook hands with church members, bought stuff in a supermarket, shook hands with staff at Mandate hotel, visited pharmacies,  ate lunch at a fast food joint meanwhile those he had contact with including those who prayed for him in the hospital have had other contacts, many of those may have travelled out of Portharcourt and met other people.

God save us from mad people like these.

 

 

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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