The Rivers State government has disclosed that no fewer than 60 people, out of close to 200 that had primary and secondary contacts with the late Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo, who died of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Port Harcourt, the state capital, are yet to be located.
Also, the state government has placed a ban on the movement of corpses within and outside the state without death certificates and explanations on the cause of such deaths, and has directed the police to demand such documents from ambulances conveying such corpses in the state.
This is as the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, will today meet with leaders of churches in the state, while a meeting with traditional rulers has been scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, over the spread of the Ebola virus in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, who addressed journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, said about 50 high-risk contacts had been identified among those that had primary contacts with the late doctor.
Giving a breakdown, the commissioner said that three of the people who had contacts with late Enemuo, including two staff of his hospital, Sam-Steel Clinic, and a staff of the Good Heart Hospital, where he died, had been moved to the treatment centre at Edoha community in Emohua local government area of the state.
He said, “Also, movement of corpses within and outside the state must be supervised; there must be death certificates and we must know the cause of the death. So, you cannot just move corpses here and there without clearance from the Ministry of Health. In fact, the police will stop you and ask for clearance. Before corpses are released from the mortuary, even the attendants will ask for the documents; before they come in and before they are released.
“The governor will meet with church leaders tomorrow — all church leaders in Rivers. He will meet them by 10am. He will in the same vein meet with all traditional rulers on Tuesday by 10am. I have been telling you before now that almost 200 persons have been traced. I keep on telling you that; that is because, out of this number, we are still to be in touch with about 60 of them. I will explain the reason later.
“But 50 high-risk contacts have been identified. Quickly, the reason why I said so is because a lot of the news, stigma, and all the rest, these persons are not coming up; we are still on them. In fact, we are concentrating on these names that we have found, and still going for new ones. Every day, it improves; it is getting better by the day.
“We now have three persons at the treatment centre at Edoha; a pharmacist at Sam-Steel Hospital and doctor that worked with Dr Enemuo at that Sam-Steel Hospital, and also a lady that was at the Good Heart Hospital while Dr Enemuo was there. However, they have not been confirmed; we are waiting for the result of the investigation. Today, we should have them. Also, let me quickly tell you that Mrs Enemuo is in a stable condition in Lagos. I am telling you these so that people will know that this is not a death sentence and come out”.
The commissioner advised worship centres against operating admission wards on their premises, as well as laying hands on people who may have had contact with Enemuo, and appealed to all those who had contacts with the late doctor or visited Sam-Steel Clinic, Good Heart Hospital and Mandate Garden Hotels to report to the Ministry of Health for checks.
Parker said, “At this point, I must tell you that most of them that came up early survived; only the ones that hid, going from one church to the other until they deteoriated so much that passed on. We must let the public know that anyone who had primary or secondary contact with Dr Enemuo or the clinics and hotel should voluntarily come out and contact us. It doesn’t mean that you are infested; all we need to do is just to observe you, and if there is anything you let us know.
“The chances of survival are very high. None of those that came up in Lagos had issues; most of them were cleared. It is important the churches don’t keep admission wards in their churches; some of them are running to churches and groups of them are laying hands on them without knowing”.