Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has debunked reports of a fresh ebola virus outbreak in the state following the death, Wednesday, of a man who allegedly manifested symptoms of the virus.
This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed, Friday, that there was no case of the virus in the city.
The state capital of Calabar was, Thursday, thrown into panic following the reported death at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) of a man who was admitted with symptoms similar to the deadly virus that claimed 7 lives last year in the aftermath of its initial outbreak in the country.
The man died shortly after being admitted to hospital in Calabar, officials said.
Over 10 people, mostly nurses at the hospital were subsequently placed on a procedural quarantine after coming into contact with the infected man showing Ebola-like symptoms, officials said.
Moving to clear the air on the health status of the state, Governor Ayade, Friday, declared that the man who died at the UCTH did not have the ebola disease, just as he restated that the health workers who were placed on observation have so far not displayed any signs of the disease.
“So far, the man did not die of the ebola virus, I can authoritatively tell you. It was more of a sensational rumour that spread in the state capital. Calabar right now remains peaceful and calm as ever,” the governor said through his Media Assistant, Mr Christian Ita.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Nigeria Ebola-free in October last year.
Meanwhile, officials of the United Nations health body have confirmed, Friday, that the man who died in Calabar in of a suspected case of Ebola did not have the deadly virus.
A WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl confirmed that the man had tested negative for Ebola and Lassa fever, while a second WHO official, Cory Couillard, also confirmed the position to the AFP news agency.
“A person who died in a suspected case of Ebola in Nigeria, triggering a scare and the quarantine of 10 others, did not have the deadly virus,” Gregory Hartl said by email, Friday.
“(The) dead person tested negative for Ebola. So this person is not going to be the source of an Ebola event,” Hartl wrote, adding: “A laboratory investigation showed the dead person did not have Ebola or Lassa fever,” Hartl said.
Also reacting, the Federal Ministry of Health has insisted that there was no truth to the claims of a fresh outbreak of the disease in the state.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Linus Awute, at a press briefing in Abuja, Friday, blamed the reports on misconception, since the victim had also showed some symptoms of the disease while in hospital.
“It has been investigated clinically, also using laboratory tests. The young man was down with symptoms that are similar with that of Ebola. His temperature was 37 degrees. But he had not travelled outside Calabar. His family has a case of chicken pox.
”Experiences in Ebola containment were used. The blood samples that were collected before his death were taken to Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo State and necessary tests were conducted to ascertain if he had Lasser Fever or Ebola,” Awute said.
Continuing, Awute said: “The result of the tests carried out on the man had nothing to do with Lasser Fever and Ebola. The test results confirmed that it was negative. However, the results of what actually killed him would be ready on Monday.”
It would be recalled that last Wednesday, the three countries worst affected by Ebola – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – recorded their first week with no new cases since the outbreak began in March 2014.
More than 11,000 people died in the West African Ebola outbreak, the worst known occurrence of the disease in history.
New cases have fallen sharply in 2015, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the disease could break out again.
The latest scare happened when a patient arrived at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital on Wednesday.
“We have sent blood samples for testing and quarantined identified contacts,” said Queeneth Kalu, the hospital’s chief medical director.
Those quarantined included nurses who had attended to the patient, he added.
Ebola arrived in Nigeria in July 2014 when a Liberian businessman collapsed at Lagos airport. But the outbreak was contained with seven deaths – far fewer cases than in the worst-hit countries.