The Federal Government has described as false the news that the outbreak of Monkey Pox in some parts of the country resulted from its free medical care in the affected areas.
In a statement yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the news as fake and sinister. He urged Nigerians to disregard the report.
”The Federal Government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers State, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of Monkey Pox in both states.
“Monkey Pox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as Chicken Pox and Smallpox. It is suspected that someone may have contracted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak,” the minister said.
He said no effort will be spared in curtailing the spread of the disease.
With the confirmation of a new case of monkeypox in Akwa Ibom State, there are now 13 cases of the disease in the country.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday, confirmed 12 cases, which started with that of an 11-year-old male patient reported at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer NCDC Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said 11 other cases were identified.
Ihekweazu explained that a Rapid Response Team (RRT) from NCDC was immediately deployed to support the Bayelsa State Government in the investigations and public health response to the outbreak.
The team has been supporting the Bayelsa State Department of Public Health and the State Epidemiologist to respond to the outbreak. “As the outbreak investigation and response continues, the Bayelsa State Government has started an aggressive public enlightenment campaign to advise clinicians and the public on the symptoms of the disease and the steps required to manage the cases and to prevent further spread. NCDC has also collected appropriate clinical samples from the cases and these are being analysed through the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja,” Ihekweazu explained.
There was panic in Akwa Ibom State following the reported case of monkey-pox disease. Commissioner for Health Dr. Dominic Ukong, who announced the outbreak in Uyo, said the victim had been isolated. He also said two other suspected cases were being monitored by doctors
Ukpong explained that the viral ailment borne by wild animals, especially Monkeys could be contracted through bodily contact with infected persons and warned the populace to shun bush meat. Commissioner for Information and Strategy Charles Udoh spoke of the need for residents to avoid crowded places as relevant agencies had been alerted to ensure appropriate clinical measures were in place to deal with such emergencies.
But the Bayelsa State Government yesterday said it had curtailed the spread of the virus through various response mechanism it created in the wake of the epidemic.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation Daniel Iworiso-Markson said many of the victims quarantined at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, were already showing signs of recovery.
He said the government had intensified sensitization and advocacy visits to communities to reassure the indigenes of its readiness to tackle the spread of the disease.
Iworiso-Markson explained that two of the index cases and the doctor affected by the disease had recovered and were discharged, adding that no death had been recorded from the disease.
“To further allay the fears and reassure Bayelsans of Governments’ effort in curbing the disease, let me make it clear that we are on top of the situation. However, it is important for people to take note of the fact that prevention is better than cure.
“Hence, they are required to always wash their hands, avoid monkeys, bushmeat and dead animals as well as be on the lookout for symptoms which often manifest as various stages of rash and an intense weakness of the body and severe pains, among other things,” he said.