7 October 2017
By Chidiebere Ejike
The government of Bayelsa State has set up a 12-man rapid response team to step up preventive measures to contain the spread of Monkey Pox, the strange disease, which hit the state during the week.
The 12-man committee comprises top medical professionals as the core team, and also has sub-committee members made up of health officials mandated to comb all communities near Yenagoa, the state capital for contact tracing of those likely to have been hit with the virus.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ebitimula Etebu, in an interview after he inaugurated the committee, appealed to Bayelsans not to panic, noting that the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, NDUTH, which currently houses the isolation facility for Monkey Pox patients has 13 of those patients at various stages of recovery.
Etebu said residents of Yenagoa and its environs need to observe simple hygiene procedures so that the situation would not get out of control even as he urged people to wash their hands with the free hand sanitizer the ministry was distributing to the people.
The commissioner said, “At present, we have 13 suspected cases at different stages of recovery following treatment at the makeshift isolation ward at NDUTH, Okolobiri. There are also over 50 persons being actively monitored at different locations in the state.
“And this is in order to quickly detect any new case, following exposure to suspected cases. The state Ministry of Health, with the support of the international community led by the World Health Organisation, international partners, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control have since embarked on enlightenment campaigns. Active disease surveillance has also been carried out; case management and other sundry measures have also been carried out in a bid to halt the spread of the disease in the state.
“New suspected cases are being reported everyday in the state. The situation can get out of hand if critical measures are not quickly put in place and that is why we have thought it expedient to inform the public. And the essence is to allay the general public of the fact that there is no need to panic; it does not call for any fear. The ministry and the government of the state are on top of the situation.’’
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso- Markson said the state government has opened two dedicated telephone lines 08066987752 and 08035474676 to report cases of persons with the suspected virus.
Also, the Chairman of Medical Advisory Committee and Deputy Chief Medical Director, Dr. Johnbull Jombo, who said the Chief Medical Director, Prof Dimie Ogoina, has been summoned to Yenagoa, noted that the Bayelsa State government and authorities of the NDUTH are receiving full support from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control to contain the spread of the virus in the state.
He said that the isolation facility is receiving patients’ everyday and health officials in the hospitals have been trained on how to handle the patients without fear of contracting the disease.