From: Madu Ezenoha, Enugu
There was pandemonium in Enugu state on Wednesday following panic withdrawal of school children from their various schools by their parents.
The parents were reacting to rumour that a military medical outreach was being carried out in schools by 82 Division Nigerian Army, Enugu.
The social media was awash with fake news that similar exercise in Anambra state resulted in some fatalities.
But officials of the state government and that of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu dismissed the rumours.
The state commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin said: “There is absolutely nothing to worry about and if there should be, be rest assured that we will do everything possible to get everybody in the know.
“There is only one established case of Monkey-pox in Bayelsa state. There is no other established case anywhere in Nigeria as we speak. Some states have reported suspect patients, cases they are investigating and until such cases confirm diagnosis, it remains unconfirmed and suspicion.
“There is no vaccine anywhere in the world today for treatment of Monkey-pox, if there is we would have done our best to make it available.
“On the other hand, nobody is going around doing any vaccination for monkey-pox, not even by willingness let alone by force. There is no such activity going on. It is unfortunate people have panicked and this was reflected in the massive withdrawal of children from schools today (Wednesday).
“It was totally uncalled for. So we wish to use this opportunity to reassure the good citizens of Enugu state and beyond that there is nothing to worry about. The state is on surveillance twenty four hours every week. So I plead with parents, if you can still take your children back to school today, please do that, if not please make sure they are back to school tomorrow.”
The commissioner advised on good hygiene, insisting there is no epidemic or outbreak of monkey-pox in Enugu.
“But if the question is if there is any suspected case, the answer is yes, we have a suspected case being handled as international best practices require. International best practice requires quarantine, monitoring, treatment,” he said.
On his part, Enugu commissioner for Information, Ogbuagu Anikwe, stated that there is no military medical outreach programme in Enugu state.
“There is no such programme going on in Enugu state, even in the case of Anambra state, it is restricted to one local government and in one town called Ozubulu and that programme has been stopped. There is a lot of misconception following it. So I can confirm to you that there is no such medical outreach going on in Enugu state as we speak.”
The Director of Army Public Relations, 82 Division Nigerian Army (NA), Sagir Musa, said that the attention of the Division has been drawn to a “silly and mischievous publication now trending on the social media alleging that the ongoing free medical services given to some communities in the South Eastern Region of Nigeria is with a sinister motive of depopulating the region through the so called “monkey pox vaccination” purportedly being conducted by the NA in the region.
“The exercise is part of the corporate social responsibility initiatives imbued in to the overall Exercise EGWU EKE 11 package, to the people of the South Eastern Region, which is the Area of Responsibility of the 82 Division NA and is also the theatre of the Exercise.
“Instructively, the free medical services in the region started on the 18th of September 2017 in Nkwaagu community of Abakaliki Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi State.
“At the event, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, the Chairman of the LGA and some traditional rulers of the benefiting community were there at the flag off of the exercise by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai.
“Other areas where the programme was conducted were Ovim in Isiukwato LGA of Abia State, Mbaise in Imo State, Oji River in Enugu and now Ozubulo in Anambra State.
“In all the mentioned areas, there has not been any recorded incident or complain of any kind arising from the noble humanitarian gesture of the NA.
“Hence, the wicked, ill motivated rumour/ lies is the handiwork of unpatriotic elements who can go to any length to discredit the noble services of the NA in the region, which at the moment they will not succeed.
“The 82 Division NA also wishes to thank all the good people of Ozubulo in Ekwusigo LGA including the chairman, Engineer Ofademe Ikenna and the Honourable Commissioner for Health Anambra State, Dr Akabuike who turned out enmass to grace/ benefit from the
Exercise. Also our appreciation to the Anambra State National Coordinator of
Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr Okafor for gracing the occasion and commended the exercise.”